The Murdoch estate, worth $30 million in 2013, is in imminent danger as the California wildfires close in on the playground of the rich and famous.
The Skirball blaze has forced mass evacuations in the Los Angeles neighbourhood of Bel-Air, and Rupert Murdoch’s vineyard estate is in the jaws of the inferno.
In 2013, the media mogul paid almost $US30 million for the 16-acre property, which includes a 13-acre Moraga Estate winery.
The Los Angeles Times reports a firefighter noticed smoke coming from Mr Murdoch’s vineyards at 1.30pm local time and by 2pm three helicopter water drops had been carried out.
The executive chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox released a statement, saying it remains touch and go, with television footage showing there may already be damage to some buildings in the upper vineyard area.
“The situation at Moraga Bel Air is very fluid at the moment,” he said in the statement. “The property has been evacuated but based on what we’re seeing on TV there may be damage to some buildings in the upper vineyard area.
“We believe the winery and house are still intact. We are monitoring the situation as closely as we can and are grateful for the efforts of all the first responders. Some of our neighbours have suffered heavy losses and our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time.”
— Moraga Bel Air (@MoragaBelAir) December 6, 2017
Variety was told by a Moraga staff member on Wednesday morning that everyone had been evacuated from the estate, but the employee could not confirm whether the wind-whipped fire had engulfed the buildings or vineyards.
The Moraga Estate has a proud Hollywood connection. According to the LA Times, Victor Fleming built the home the same year he helped produce ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘Gone with the Wind’ as director. In fact, he had a ranch on the property where he kept horses owned by Clark Gable.
The Southern California wildfires have been raging since Monday, and fuelled by the Santa Ana winds, they have already engulfed 34,000 hectares and damaged hundreds of buildings in Los Angeles county and neighbouring Ventura county.
More than 10,000 people have reportedly evacuated their homes already and another 150,000 have received orders to.
— ABC News (@ABC) December 7, 2017