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British Screenwriter, Director Burned In Malibu Blaze With PM-Wildfires, Bjt

November 3, 1993

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ British screenwriter-director Duncan Gibbins had taken a liking to a stray cat that wandered up to his Topanga Canyon guest house. So when flames lept up at the cottage, he went back to get it.

Today, Gibbins was in critical condition in the burn unit at Sherman Oaks Hospital and Health Center, breathing with a respirator, 90 percent of his body covered with burns.

As he battled for life, the name of his 1986 movie ″Fire With Fire,″ seemed more than a little ironic.

Gibbins, 41, also directed the 1991 movie, ″Eve of Destruction,″ starring Gregory Hines and Renee Soutendijk, and made music videos for groups such as the Eurythmics and Wham 3/8.

He was listed in extremely critical condition today, hospital administrative supervisor Doris Del Verde said. Gibbins’ mother was en route from her home in Cornwall, England, to be with her son, said Dr. A. Richard Grossman.

Peter Alexander, a friend who owns the house that Gibbins was renting, said the director had gotten safely away from his cottage but headed back to rescue the cat.

″I don’t know if he went into the house to get the cat or if he had been looking for the cat on the property,″ he said.

Alexander escaped the blaze unscathed, but another friend who was at his 10-acre spread hopped into a vehicle to look for Gibbins and became engulfed in flames. Ron Mass, 40, sustained burns over 75 percent of his body, including ″almost completely the arms, the hands and the chest and the face and head,″ Grossman said.

Mass was listed as critical in the burn unit at Sherman Oaks, Grossman said.

Three California Department of Forestry firefighters also sustained burns while battling the blaze in the steep canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, but their injuries were less serious, Del Verde said.

Barry Bierman, 28, and Shawn Kite, 25, were both listed in good condition. Al McBride, 43, was listed in stable condition with second- and third-degree burns to his back and shoulders, Del Verde said.

Alexander said a friend had returned to his property, and said the fire had reduced his home to ″a pile of rubble.″ But not Gibbins’ cottage.

″The great irony is that the house is standing,″ he said. ″Everything else on the property is burned, (but) Duncan’s house is still standing.″