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50 Years Later - We Remember the Bel Air Disaster

Museum Info

Hollywood Museum

1355 N. Caheunga Blvd.
Hollywood, CA 90028
(323) 464 - 2727
SAT 10a - 4p

Harbor Museum

638 Beacon Street
San Pedro, CA 90731
(323) 464 - 2727
SAT 10a - 3p

Off-hour tours available
by special request.

50 Years Later - We Remember the Bel Air Disaster

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Bel Air Fire
On November 6th, 1961, the City of Los Angeles experienced the worst fire in the history of the city - to that point in time. The Bel Air Fire destroyed nearly 500 homes, and it was a miracle that nobody died as a result of the wind-driven flames.

As the November winds begin to pick up this week, we encourage you to check out this important reminder of how quickly a wildfire can destroy a neighborhood, even in today's modern world.

Read our story: Remembering the Bel Air Fire of 1961


Thank you for this article about the Bel Air Fire. My dad, Kenny Rupp, a member of LAFD first mountain patrol, was fighting that fire along side the rest. I am always overjoyed to read anything Dad was involved in on the department, I know how much he loved his job as a fireman. Since he died of work related injuries when I was eleven, I have been looking for photos of him everywhere. We don't have many of Dad, he was always on the other side of the camera. If you or anyone has photos of Dad and the others from Sta 109's , please let me know, I'd love to have copies. I am trying to put together something of a book about Dad so the kids, grandkids, and so on would be able to know a little bit of the wonderful man my Dad was.
Thank you again for writing this. It is good to know some of the men my Dad worked with and loved, are still around to tell their stories. God bless you all.

November 3rd, 2009 // By Cynthia Rupp

What a wonderful story. I had no idea that a wildfire could move so quickly. I always thought brush fires moved rapidly in those canyons in the forest. To think they could do this in LA is frightening. I have come to your museum on several occasions, but it's always closed. When is it open?

November 6th, 2009 // By Mark Selig

I worked for CDF and was assigned to this fire on mutual aid to the LAFD. We reported to Sta. 71 in Holmby Hills and went to work with LAFD Mountain Patrol 2, Tank Wagon 99 and Eng. 72 up off Sepulveda Pass. It was a wild and wooly day for allo fus and then a new fire took off over near Topanga. Now resources became a premium. We fianlly were near St. Martin's Catholic Church on Mandeville Canyon Road. We worked for two full days without really taking more than a quick break for a C Ration of a fresh cup of coffee. We had two LA County Hand Crews work with us up towards St. Mary's College and we were doing a wild land progressive hoselay. It is hard to believe that was almost 50 years ago.

December 15th, 2009 // By Norm Silver

Hello, I would like to get a message to Cynthia Rupp. My father worked side by side with Kenny during this fire and many others. My father Jim Luke was good friends with Kenny. He retired out of fire station 109B (mountain patrol 2). I may have photos. I haven't looked through all the stuff since my father passed away last year. I also knew and loved Kenny since we shared a love for cars also. If you get this contact me at

April 8th, 2012 // By Patrick Luke

My parents had a beautiful home on top of a hill, over looking the Bel Air Hotel and other beautiful views. Our house was on Somma Way (just beautiful).
The fire came so fast, that it is even hard to put into words, how rapid the high flames just flatten our beautiful home and everything in our home, I mean EVERYTHING, just gone, all gone...I believe, that whole horrible nightmare and the lost of everything we owned, caused the death of my Father. My Father was in a state of shock and dis-belief....everything we had, was NO MORE. My parents brought another house in Trousdale Estate, on Chris Place. However, nothing, ever compared to the home we lost in the Bel Air fire. In November 1962, my Father past away from a heart attack... My Mother stayed in the house on Chris Place, for 38 years and died in that house, in November 1997. There is alot more to this story, that does not have a happy ending. Which would be about ruthless attorneys and real estate people taking advantage of an elderly lady, my Mother, she got, in words, ROBBED big time....

July 27th, 2012 // By Carol Guzzardi

If anyone would like to get in touch with me, I would like to hear from you. Sincerely, Carol Guzzardi

July 27th, 2012 // By carol guzzardi

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