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Braving Home: Millie Decker

Long before the movie stars and millionaires began arriving in Malibu, Calif., residents of the dusty region were fighting fires. The coastal city is the wildfire capital of North America. Every two and a half years, on average, flames scourge the area. When the fires come, the Hollywood glitterati flee, but 83-year-old Millie Decker stays.

Decker has lived in Malibu since the Pacific Coast Highway was just a wagon trail, and she prides herself as the last of the region's hillbillies. A veteran rodeo performer, she's ridden bulls and detonated dynamite, but she finds it's fire that presents the true challenge. With each blaze that threatens her home, Decker resorts to the tactics of her ancestors: barrels of water and gunnysacks.

In the fourth of a five-part series based on his book Braving Home, journalist Jake Halpern spoke to Decker about life in the canyon. "To tell you the truth, I've been very fortunate," says Decker. "No house of mine has ever burned down."

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