On November 8, 2018, at 2:24 pm, a fire broke out near Simi Valley, California that would become one of the largest fires in Los Angles County history. At 5:15 am, the fire crossed the 101 freeway and burned towards Malibu, California waking up residents with a thick plume of black smoke. It seemed like the world was ending as winds upwards of 50 miles an hour whipped massive walls of flame through the canyons and mountains.
Marshall Mullen recalls his experience, “while the majority evacuated, some residents stayed behind and defended their homes. Many were successful, and I was fortunate enough to be one of those people with the help of my two friends. We owe our gratitude to the firefighters and everyone who stayed behind to protect anything they could. Considering the magnitude of the fire, an exceptional amount of homes were saved.”
By the end of it all, many people were less lucky, with 1,500 structures and three lives lost to the Woolsey fire. 88% of the Santa Monica mountain range we call home burned.
The area was left desolate, closed off for weeks with residents going a month without power, and even longer without cell, landline or Internet. The open space we know and love was reduced to smoldering remains, resembling another planet more than the brush-covered hills we knew so well as mountain bikers. Roads were impassable, covered in fallen trees, debris and downed power lines. The landscape resembled the moon, with varying shades of black, grey and white being the only thing visible.
Out of the ashes, however, came the rare chance to explore terrain that rider Marshall Mullen had never seen. Old, overgrown roads became open again, and trails long gone could once again be used. It was a short window before the winter rains brought re-growth, but from the ashes came a unique opportunity. Watch as Marshall Mullen explores the Martian landscape his home has become.
"There was a brief moment in time where the riding was some of the best I have ever ridden. That window is now gone as the hillsides are covered in new growth which is a symbol for the new beginning in Malibu." - Marshall Mullen
"I would like to take a moment to thank all the firefighters and first responders who spent countless hours defending our town during this disaster. Those who stayed back showed an incredible amount of courage, and without you, a lot more would be lost. "
"My deepest gratitude goes out to my two friends who stayed and defended with me for the full 20-hour long fight. Thank you." - Marshall Mullen