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Inmate Firefighter Critically Injured While Battling Brush Fire In Malibu

MALIBU ( — An inmate deployed as a firefighter was in critical condition Thursday after being hit by a falling rock while battling a pre-dawn brush fire that scorched about 10 acres along the Malibu ridgeline.

The blaze, which was about 75 percent contained by early afternoon, broke out shortly after 3 a.m. on Mulholland Drive near the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.


Firefighters said the person who reported the fire physically notified authorities as there was no cell phone signal to call in the incident.

Upon their arrival, crews located flames burning across an estimated 20 acres in steep terrain. Flames quickly spread throughout the hillside by jumping between heavy brush.

Malibu resident Steven Siegel told CBS2's Kara Finnstrom he thought his house was on fire after his son frantically alerted him of the apparent flames.

"We went outside and literally we looked over the ridge and there was a gigantic fire," Siegel explained.

More than 200 firefighters were assisted at the scene by 15 engines and three water-dropping helicopters.

During the firefight, one female inmate firefighter was critically injured after she was struck by a rock. Paramedics airlifted her to UCLA Medical Center for treatment of "major injuries," the fire department reported. Her name was withheld.

Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies evacuated residents voluntarily from up to 20 homes at South Bardman Avenue and Mulholland Highway, officials said.

Authorities said some of the properties were vacation homes where residents do not live year-round.

Voluntary evacuations occurred at Shalom Institute Camp and Conference, located in the 34300 block of Mulhollhand Highway.

The cause of the blaze, which was fought by fire crews from Los Angeles and Ventura counties, was under investigation.

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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