A fire erupted before dawn Monday on the west side of the Sepulveda Pass—near where the 405 Freeway passes the Getty Center—and roared up slopes into wealthy neighborhoods, threatening thousands of homes in Los Angeles.
Authorities closed the southbound 405 Freeway from the 101 Freeway in Sherman Oaks to Sunset Boulevard.
The blaze, known as the Getty Fire, sparked around 1:30 a.m. and burned toward neighborhoods including Mountaingate and Brentwood. About 10,000 homes and businesses are in areas subject to mandatory evacuation orders.
Several homes were seen burning and Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James tweeted that he and his family had to evacuate.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the wildfire has grown to 500 acres. The mayor says he has seen five burned homes since the blaze began early Monday and Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas says he believes the number of destroyed homes will rise.
The fire chief says Santa Ana winds blowing out of the northeast are expected to continue until 2 p.m.
In Long Beach, Mayor Robert Garcia said the LBFD was monitoring “sensitive sites” in the city amid the fire-prone weather conditions.
“Long Beach residents, please stay informed about local L.A. fires and freeway closures,” he Tweeted. “Our thoughts and support are with all area firefighters and first responders including LBFD who are working hard saving lives and property.”
Although the freeway remained open, officials urged motorists to avoid the 405 through the Sepulveda Pass. Offramps were closed in the area and traffic was snarled, the Los Angeles Times reported.
As of 4:30 a.m., the LAFD said the fire was moving in a westward direction. The Mandeville Canyon and Mountaingate communities remain under a mandatory evacuation order that verges into Brentwood, and the evacuation warning area has been expanded westward to include parts of Topanga State Park and the Pacific Palisades.
Airplanes dropping water and fire retardant have also joined the battle. Night-flying helicopters made water drops during predawn hours Monday and large aircraft started flying the area after the sun rose.
Two so-called “Super Scooper” turboprop airplanes that scoop up water from lakes and reservoirs have begun making drops, along with converted jets unleashing loads of bright pink retardant.
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