Malibu Fire Woolsey Fire

Malibu Burning and the Malibu Fire: How the Woolsey Fire of 2018 turned into a monster and nearly destroyed one of the most beautiful (and famous) places on Earth.

Malibu is known as an earthly paradise of multi-million dollar mansions, movie stars and unimaginable natural beauty. But that all changed on November 8, 2018.

Go deep behind the scenes of the most destructive wildfire in Los Angeles history. Alongside his wife and son, Robert Kerbeck battled the fire that threatened to take their home. He knows first-hand how the Malibu fires affected everyone – from the rich and famous to the firefighters who often risked their lives.

Blending investigative journalism and personal memoir, Malibu Burning brings you on the dramatic, life-threatening journey of real people fighting 2,000 degree flames to save entire neighborhoods. You’ll also read:

  • How the massive blaze affected Julia Roberts, Bob Dylan, Nick Nolte, and other celebrities.
  • Hundreds of interviews with perspectives of locals ranging from the Deputy Fire Chief and Malibu City Council members to residents who fought to defend their homes.
  • How people survived this tragedy through courage, kindness and unified cooperation.

This book takes you into the hearts and minds of those who fought for their lives while the world watched Malibu Burning. To read an excerpt, click here. To purchase a copy of Malibu Burning please click here.



Editorial Praise for Malibu Burning

“A lucky break for any reader: an honest-to-god writer dropped in the center of the Malibu fire. Thrilling, well-researched and occasionally light-hearted, this is a unique and special book.”
Paul Kolsby, writer for the critically acclaimed Netflix series, Ozark

“Robert Kerbeck puts a human face on the type of tragedy that grabs headlines but then fades from our collective memory all-too-soon. Blending personal narrative and investigative research, Kerbeck shows us the real story of what happens when a community faces down disaster.”
– Brandon Spiegel, Co-Founder and Editorial Director, Narratively

“Rather than focus on the enormity of Los Angeles County’s largest wildfire in recorded history, Robert Kerbeck takes a much more personal and thoroughly riveting approach, allowing the reader to see the Woolsey Fire through the eyes of individuals who lived through it. Each chapter tells a different story, and together they provide deep insight into the fire’s effect on one community.”
– Sharan Street, former managing editor, LA Weekly

“Kerbeck´s writing is so organic…so emotionally intimate…that it is impossible to not be pulled in.”
- SJ Main Muñoz, award-winning director, writer, and producer 

“Through vivid firsthand accounts of survivors, drawn from more than two hundred interviews, as well as his own near fatal confrontation with the fire, Kerbeck guides us through the disorienting and often terrifying experience that was the Woolsey fire of 2018. Cinematic and rich with detail, with characters and scenes that will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book, this investigative memoir reads like a well-written novel. One of the first books to be written about the Woolsey Fire, it is unflinching as it asks the hard questions that haunt many of the survivors.”
– John Struloeff, former Stegner Fellow and author of The Man I Was Supposed to Be

“The name ‘Malibu’ has a lot of baggage-playground of the rich, birthplace of Gidget – but what Robert Kerbeck shows us is the real Malibu: a small town much like any other across America, economically diverse, and in the instance of the Woolsey Fire, betrayed by the very entities that were supposed to defend it. What you also see rising up out of the ashes is community, a new generation of leaders, and hope. Riveting and heartbreaking, but also inspiring.”
– Liz Ziemska, Pushcart Prize winning author of Mandelbrot the Magnificent

“A personal journey through the most traumatic firestorm in recent years, Kerbeck gives us a unique insight into the stories of the men an women who were at the forefront of this life-changing, community-alerting event.”
– Sally Shore, host/producer, The New Short Fiction Series, LA’s longest running spoken word series


Below are pictures and videos Robert and his son took during and immediately after the fire. 

James Bond, aka Pierce Brosnan, buying a copy of Malibu Burning. 

The Dude abides! Actor Sam Elliott with his copy of Malibu Burning. 

Wayne’s World star Tia Carrere with her copy of Malibu Burning. Schwing!

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti thanking Robert for writing Malibu Burning.

Robert with activist Erin Brockovich at an event

Priscilla Presley with Robert at an event