Paradise Lost? Malibu Picks Up the Pieces

The celebrity life may not be much to envy as the smoke begins to clear from the wildfires that have ravaged Southern California this week.

As dawn broke Monday, fierce flames forced the evacuation of several hundred residents of the scenic seaside town of Malibu, including many well-known entertainers.

The popular coastal enclave is home to many celebrities, entertainment industry moguls and at least 12 billionaires, some of whom were forced to flee from their homes.

"I don't even want to consider what I would lose," said actress and ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" contestant Jane Seymour.

She told "Access Hollywood" that her husband defied evacuation orders this week. He remained in Malibu to defend their home, which she described as filled with family treasures and memorabilia from her career.

Kelsey Grammar, Sally Field, Olivia Newton John and Mel Gibson were among the celebrities who followed the advice of firefighters and left their homes.

Have you shot video or photos of the California fires? Upload them now at i-CAUGHT.

When the smoke and ash cleared, six residences, a church, a glass business and a faux castle were destroyed.

Actor Sean Penn reportedly lost not one, but two homes perched on land at the top of Carbon Canyon Road, close to actor David Duchovny's house.

According to newspusher.com of AKA Media, Penn lost his first home on the exclusive hillside property in the big 1993 Topanga Malibu fire that destroyed 300 homes.

Hoping to avoid another devastating loss, the French entertainment news service says Penn did not rebuild a house, but instead placed two vintage trailer homes on the land. Both were burned in this week's wildfire.

In January, actress Suzanne Somers' beachfront home burned to the ground despite efforts by firefighters and actor (and neighbor) John Cusack. Somers vowed to rebuild.

Malibu: Hot, Wet and Dangerous?

Since 1970, nine major wildfires have consumed parts of Malibu; that's an average of one devastating conflagration every four years.

Those fires strip the chaparral-covered mountains that rise seemingly out of the sea, but also make them prone to ruinous floods and mudslides.

In the last 10 years, there have been four destructive slides — one almost every other year.

Yet the persistent threat of natural disaster does not appear to dissuade about 13,000 residents — including Gibson, Cher, David Geffen, Terry Semel, Jennifer Aniston, Will Smith, Bill Murray and Sting from building homes along Malibu's shoreline or in the adjacent canyons.

"It is a natural environment and it is unfortunately what we have to deal with at times," said real estate agent Shen Schulz of Pritchett-Rapf in Malibu.

"But it is along the beach, somewhat geographically isolated and yet close to Los Angeles," said Schulz

"There is lots of privacy for celebrities and diversity. We have everything from hippy-trippy Topanga Canyon to the Carbon Beach 'Billionaires Bay' to the world-class Pepperdine University," Schulz said.

While there may be a major downturn in the housing market across the nation, Malibu is a world away from that seismic shift.

Just 27 mostly beach-hugging miles long and relatively narrow, land is at a premium and demand for homes always outstrips supply.

Currently, Schulz is showcasing a 7,500-square-foot home with an ocean view, perched on an acre of land and boasting seven bedrooms and six baths.

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