Los Angeles city firefighters Monday battled a blaze that started next to the San Diego (405) Freeway and Getty Center Drive, soon grew to at least 500 acres, prompting evacuation orders affecting thousands of homes and the closure of 18 schools in the Los Angeles Unified School Distinct and all schools in the Santa Monica-Malibu School District.
As of 7:15 a.m. approximately 900 customers in the Getty fire area were without power, the Department of Water and Power reported.
Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Eric Scott said in an update from the fire scene that 3,300 homes were under mandatory evacuation and that at least two structures had burned. He said no injuries were reported, the Getty Center is not currently threatened, and some 500 firefighters were working the blaze.
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.
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. 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 soon open 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 the Hansen Dam was opened 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, Kentner, Marquez, Palisades, Roscomare, Nora Sterry, Topanga, Warner and Westwood elementary schools.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced a citywide tactical alert, which means officers currently working will stay on duty until further notice.
“This is a very dynamic situation due to high 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.
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