Maurice Williamson, New Zealand's Consul-General in Los Angeles, is keeping his fingers crossed that the winds around the official residence in the hills of Brentwood don't change in the next few hours.
The residence is hosting a concert in the back yard tonight by Aldous Harding, the winner of this year's APRA Silver Scroll Award, with the 100 or so guest list comprising many influential people from the music industry, and Williamson is keen that the cellphone fire alert does not go off in the middle of it.
"They have got a fantastic alarm system here and even it is turned off, it makes this weird and really loud noise."
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He talked to the Herald from the residence about the devastating fires of recent days, while the stage was being set up on the back lawn and the caterers were stocking the fridge.
"The whole hillside was aglow last night, really serious, big flames flaring into the air, not just a fire but flames flaring into the air like someone dropped a phosphorous bomb."
The house, he said, is about 200 metres from the mandatory evacuation zone where about 35,000 fled in the early hours of yesterday, including LA Lakers star LeBron James and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and where about eight mansions were destroyed.
Man these LA 🔥 aren’t no joke. Had to emergency evacuate my house and I’ve been driving around with my family trying to get rooms. No luck so far! 🤦🏾♂️— LeBron James (@KingJames) October 28, 2019
"The police have been dropping leaflets into all of our letterboxes, saying: 'although you are on the other side of Sunset Boulevard and you are not on a mandatory evacuation, please be prepared to leave at a moment's notice'."
LeBron James tweeted that he had been evacuated and had been driving around with his family trying to get rooms.
Williamson, who has the basketball legend's cellphone number from a time he had talked to him about coming to New Zealand, thought of texting him to say he had a few spare rooms at the residence.
"But because we are 200 yards from the exclusion zone, he could have arrived, unloaded his bags and suddenly the police say 'right you're all out of here'."
Williamson and 21-year-old daughter Brittany have bags packed and already loaded into the car for a fast getaway.
One of the lessons of the fires is to keep your guttering clear of leaves and to keep to the trees trimmed and well away from the house.
"If you get an ember landing in your guttering, within 10 minutes your house is ablaze."
He went up to Tigertail Rd this morning to see some of the houses that were destroyed.
"You can see a house has gone and then two are standing and a house is gone and one is standing then three houses gone, and why is that? That is because the embers landed on the right part of the house and caught something that was combustible and away it went.
"It's completely binary. If your house gets chosen, it gets completely chosen."
Luckily Williamson had the guttering on the New Zealand residence cleaned two weeks ago and the trees trimmed way back.
"I would love to have got a chainsaw to them, which I have done in the past at Pauanui and taken out a couple of big pine trees that were ripping the paths and ripping out water piping because they were so long and old, but the City of Los Angeles has very strict covenants on them."
He didn't know their variety but they were as dry as a bone, and stood at about 20 metres tall.
Williamson's wife, Raewyn, elected to keep her job at McLeans' College in Pakuranga, and visits every school holidays. Twin son Connor is on a tennis scholarship in South Carolina and also visits in the holidays. Brittany goes to college in Los Angeles and shares the six-bedroom house with Williamson.
Williamson, a former veteran National MP, was appointed under the last National-led government. He was prepared to be recalled when the government changed two years ago but that has not happened.
He had not spoken to Foreign Minister Winston Peters in that time – he deals with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, not politicians - but he said he always got on well with him.
He saw his job as encouraging business and investment connections between New Zealand and the United States and the house was used for events to promote many things connected with New Zealand, including beef and lamb, wines, films and music.
He loves the weather - 26C and sunny almost every day – but cant stand the "gunk" in the atmosphere. Every week he gets his car cleaned of the black buildup from car emissions.