West Coast music community ravaged by California wildfires

Camp fire in Butte County has become the state’s most destructive and the deadliest on record
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Film composer and record producer Richard Gibbs lost his Malibu home to the fire, but his Woodshed Studio survived unscathed. Photo: Richard Gibbs/Facebook.

Film composer and record producer Richard Gibbs lost his Malibu home to the fire, but his Woodshed Studio survived unscathed. Photo: Richard Gibbs/Facebook.

Fires continue to rage through Northern and Southern California, taking lives and destroying property across a total of 200,000 acres, impacting the homes and studios of many in the music community.

As of Tuesday, November 13, the Woolsey fire had devastated over 96,000 acres in Malibu, Westlake Village and Thousand Oaks, and was just 35 per cent contained. Two people have been reported dead as a result of the fires, and 435 structures have been destroyed with 57,000 considered to be under threat.

Film composer and record producer Richard Gibbs, former keyboard player with Oingo Boingo, lost his Malibu home to the fire. However, video shot by a friend and posted on Gibbs’ Facebook page on Saturday, November 11 showed that his famed studio, which featured in AMI sister title PSN in 2016, appears to have made it through the devastation unscathed. “The Woodshed lives on,” wrote Gibbs.

Producer and singer-songwriter Robin Thicke and his girlfriend, model April Love Geary, lost their Malibu home. “It's just rubble. There's nothing left," he said in an interview on ETonline.com.

According to Billboard, producer and musician Butch Walker wrote on Facebook that his house was “still standing. Yard and other structures are toast.” Walker previously lost everything, including his recording studio, when a 2007 Malibu fire destroyed the house he was renting from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Billboard also reported that producer, engineer and composer Charley Pollard lost his house in Malibu. Pollard’s Dragonfly Creek Recording Studio, which has hosted sessions by Lady Gaga, Mark Ronson and Neil Young, is reportedly still standing. Also affected was Mike Garson, a pianist and longtime collaborator with David Bowie. “My family and I are safe. Unfortunately, my home and studio have burned to the ground and we are devastated,” he wrote on Twitter.

Popular entertainers including Miley Cyrus, Neil Young and Gerard Butler have lost their homes to the Woolsey fire, while a long list of celebrities including Kim Kardashian West, Lady Gaga, Alyssa Milano, Orlando Bloom, Guillermo del Toro, Cher, Martin Sheen, Mark Hamill and former One Direction singer Liam Payne are waiting to learn the fate of their home in the Woolsey fire burn area.

The area, which encompasses large regions including Bell Canyon, Oak Park, Calabasas and Topanga, have been under mandatory evacuation orders, causing an estimated 250,000 to flee. Just a few miles to the west of the Woolsey fire, the smaller hill fire between Thousand Oaks and Camarillo has scorched 4,500 acres, destroying at least two structures, and is 90 per cent contained. Firefighters reportedly expect to have it fully contained by Thursday and mandatory evacuations have been lifted.

Meanwhile, the Camp fire in Butte County in Northern California has become the state’s most destructive and the deadliest on record. It has destroyed at least 6,453 homes and 260 commercial structures across 125,000 acres and killed 42. More than 200 people are still unaccounted for.

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