L.A. Wildfire Inferno Captured on Hollywood Publicist's Home Security Camera

Getty Fire - Publicity - H 2019
Courtesy photo

Slate PR partner Ina Treciokas shares security camera video of the fire, which forced several in Brentwood out of their homes, as IDPR president Mara Buxbaum says that "the flames were so bright, the cameras switched from night vision to day."

"Wake up! We’ve gotta get out of here, the ridge is red." That’s how a neighbor greeted Mara Buxbaum when she answered her door shortly after 2 a.m. on Oct. 28, the night the more than 500-acre Getty Fire began consuming her Brentwood neighborhood.

For the next two hours, the IDPR president and her husband, Greenberg Traurig partner and litigator Mathew Rosengart, watched on their phones from a parking lot on Bundy Drive as the security cameras on their home off Tigertail Road showed the flames encroaching, and eventually reducing the house across the street to ash. Three fire trucks had screamed past as the couple drove down the hill, but it looked like the firefighters were outmatched by the dry winds. "I’m seeing embers flying into the cameras," Buxbaum says. "The flames were so bright, the cameras switched from night vision to day." At 4:53 a.m., the security cameras went black.

Buxbaum, who represents clients such as Michelle Williams, Bong Joon Ho and Casey Affleck, is one of several industry names in the neighborhood, which is also home to LeBron James, actress Colleen Camp, CAA agent Fred Specktor, who evacuated with his houseguest and client Geoffrey Rush, and Slate PR partner Ina Treciokas. High-profile residents of other Brentwood neighborhoods nearby evacuated, too, including Disney CEO Bob Iger, who left his home with his wife, USC Annenberg dean Willow Bay, at 3:45 a.m.; producer Matt Tolmach, whose wine country property in Northern California was also threatened by fires there; and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who left his home at 3:30 a.m.

Ultimately 12 houses in the Tigertail neighborhood burned to the ground. When their security cameras blinked off, Buxbaum and Rosengart assumed theirs had, too. They had left so quickly they had only had time to grab a few odd belongings — Rosengart took legal papers for a case he was working on off the dining room table, while Buxbaum remembered to pack food for their dogs, rescues Max and Rosey, but forgot to bring her toiletries, clothes and medicine. "I have a checklist, but it felt too close and too windy and the smoke was so heavy already," she says. As dawn approached, the couple tried to check into the Four Seasons, which was fully booked due to the Governors Awards the night before. Not sure when they would be able to return home or where they would stay, they handed Max and Rosey over to their dog sitter and waited to get into a room. "I cried hysterically when I gave my dogs over," Buxbaum says. "Oh my God I was scared to let them go."

Later that day Buxbaum and Rosengart learned that the structure of their home had withstood the fire, though their landscaping, retaining walls and some wiring had been destroyed. They would remain at the hotel for at least a week while the house was fumigated and declared safe. "We are incredibly blessed," Buxbaum says. "The only reason my house is standing is because of the Los Angeles Fire Department." She is encouraging friends to donate to the LAFD Foundation.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.