Los Angeles city firefighters Monday battled a blaze that started next to the San Diego (405) Freeway and Getty Center Drive and soon grew to at least 500 acres, threatening some of L.A.’s ritziest neighborhoods, prompting evacuation orders affecting thousands of homes, and triggering the closure of about a score of Los Angeles Unified School Distinct schools, all schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu School District, UCLA and Santa Monica College.
As of 7:15 a.m. approximately 900 customers in the Getty fire area were without power, the Department of Water and Power reported.
The Los Angeles Fire Department said more than 10,000 homes are now under mandatory evacuation and that at least seven structures had burned. It said no injuries were reported, the Getty Center is not currently threatened — but will remained closed — and some 500 firefighters are assigned to battle the fire.
A witness notified the California Highway Patrol at 1:32 a.m. that a fire had broken out on the hillside close to the freeway, with a possible power line on fire, the CHP reported.
The CHP urged motorists to avoid the 405 Freeway, closed the Skirball Center Drive and Mulholland Drive offramp and shut down all offramps from Sepulveda to Sunset boulevards on the northbound side. The freeway was kept open to aid with evacuations, the CHP said.
A little after 8 a.m., the CHP closed the southbound San Diego (405) Freeway from the Ventura (101) Freeway in Sherman Oaks to Sunset Boulevard.
Video on KTTV11 showed structures engulfed in flames.
At around 2:45 a.m., the Los Angeles Fire Department sent L.A. residents messages on their cell phones, accompanied by what some described as very loud buzzing noises. It said: “Emergency Alert. Prepare to evacuate due to fire near the Getty going W. More info: lafd.org/alerts .” A subsequent message included orders to actually evacuate.
The fire department ordered mandatory evacuations from Temescal Canyon Road on the west, Sunset Boulevard to the south, the 405 Freeway on the east and Mulholland Drive on the north, LAFD spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said.
More than 10,000 structures — both residential and commercial — are within the affected evacuation zone, Stewart said.
Authorities drove through neighborhood streets with flashing lights ordering residents to leave. Among those evacuated was Lakers star LeBron James, who said on Twitter: “Had to emergency evacuate my house and I’e been driving around with my family trying to get rooms. No luck so far!”
Voluntary evacuations were posted for Mulholland Drive to the north, Topanga Canyon Boulevard to the west, Sunset Boulevard to the south and Mandeville Canyon Road to the east, she said.
The LAFD also ordered students to evacuate from Mount Saint Mary’s University at 12001 Chalon Road. Evacuations were also ordered for 200 people in a care facility next door.
Classes were suspended Monday at Mount Saint Mary’s Chalon Campus in Brentwood as well as at the Doheny campus, which was not reported threatened by fire.
Evacuation centers were opened at the Westwood Recreation Center at 1350 South Sepulveda Boulevard, near Wilshire Boulevard, the Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Center at 14201 Huston St. and for animals at the West Valley Animal Shelter at 20655 Plummer St. and the West L.A. Animal Shelter at 11361 West Pico Blvd.
A fourth evacuation center was opened at the Palisades Recreation Center at 851 Alma Drive and Hansen Dam was open to receive large animals.
The Los Angeles Unified School District tweeted word of school closings in light of the Getty Fire. They are: Palisades and University high schools, Emerson and Revere middle schools and Brentwood, Brockton, Canyon, Community Magnet, Fairburn, Kenter, Marquez, Palisades, Roscomare, Nora Sterry, Topanga, Warner and Westwood elementary schools.
Also closed were independent charters schools: Palisades High School, Magnolia Science Academy Nos. 4 and 6, and Citizens of the World – Gateway and Ivy Place campuses.
Some time after 6 a.m., Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Ben Drati sent an email to parents announcing that all schools and childcare locations in the district would close for the day.
Also closed Monday were UCLA, Santa Monica College and the private John Thomas Dye Elementary School at 11414 Chalon Road in Bel-Air.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District consists of seven elementary schools, SMASH Alternative School, the Edison Language Academy, the Will Rogers Learning Community, three middle schools, Malibu High School, Olympic High School and Santa Monica High School.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced a citywide tactical alert, which means officers currently working will stay on duty until further notice.
Firefighters were also being kept overtime.h winds and information is quickly developing. Stay vigilant,” Stewart wrote on Twitter.
The fire was believed to have been 3-4 acres when first observed and but soon spread to about 40 acres. By 3:30 a.m., it was reported at more than 70 acres. By 5 a.m. it had burgeoned to 250 acres and soon after that was reported at more than 400 acres. By 8 a.m., the fire area was reported at more than 500 acres.
In Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state has secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help ensure the availability of resources to fight the Getty Fire.
“California is grateful for the ongoing support as we battle fires up and down the state in extremely severe weather conditions,” said Newsom. “I thank our heroic emergency responders and volunteers for their tireless, life-saving work to safeguard communities across the state.”
The Fire Management Assistance Grant will assist local, state and tribal agencies responding to the fire to apply for 75% reimbursement of their eligible fire suppression costs.
Newsom has declared a statewide emergency due to the dangerous weather conditions, which have resulted in fires and evacuations across the state. The Governor has also secured Fire Management Assistance Grants to help ensure the availability of resources to fight the Kincade and Tick fires, for which he previously declared a state of emergency in Sonoma and Los Angeles counties.
The governor has also announced a $75 Million Program for state and local governments to mitigate the impacts of power shutoffs.