Los Angeles

Winds Stoke Wild Fires Burning Out of Control Near Los Angeles

Fire officials are dealing with unusually high winds paired with extremely dry vegetation

As wildfires burned out of control near Los Angeles Wednesday, a new fire broke out threatening a major highway and the world-famous Getty Center.

The Skirball Fire started at 4:52 a.m. and has burned 150 acres. Flames marched up a hill with winds at approximately 25 mph at the 405 freeway in the Sepulveda Pass.

At least four homes were destroyed. 

More than 350 firefighters, 6 fixed wing aircraft from Cal Fire and 52 engines were battling the flames and defending homes at the top of the hill.

Northbound lanes of the 405 freeway were closed just before 7 a.m. The 405 Freeway was blocked from the 101 Freeway to the 10 Freeway on both sides, including all on and off ramps. The eastbound and westbound entrances to the 405 Freeway from the 10 Freeway are closed as well.

The museum is threatened and closed to the public Wednesday, however, officials there said the air filtration system was activated to protect the artwork from the smoke.

The Thomas Fire in Ventura County has scorched 65,000 acres while the Creek Fire in Los Angeles County had scorched 11,377 acres.

The Rye Fire, which prompted a closure of I-5 at the Grapevine, has burned 7,000 and was 5 percent surrounded.

Fire officials are dealing with unusually high winds paired with extremely dry vegetation. The fires are unpredictable. The Creek Fire jumped the 210 freeway Tuesday and overnight, the Thomas Fire has jumped Highway 101.

Helicopters and super scoopers that are vital in controlling wildfires were grounded for parts of the day Tuesday due to erratic winds. Officials said it was too dangerous to fly them in the strong winds.

The National Weather Service said the Santa Ana winds will not be as strong as Tuesday but the dry, offshore winds will continue across Southern California.

Critical to extreme fire weather conditions were expected Thursday.


Fires will burn intensely and be uncontrollable throughout the region from Ventura to San Diego counties, according to the U.S. Forest Service.


The Thomas Fire started at 6:28 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4 at Highways 50 and 126, north of Santa Paula, according to Cal Fire. Some 12,000 structures were under threat. Officials issued mandatory evacuations.

The fire jumped Highway 101 to a rocky beach northwest of Ventura, bringing new evacuations, though officials said the sparse population and lack of vegetation in the area meant it was not overly dangerous, and the highway was not closed.

The Creek Fire started at 3:43 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 5. Just before 1 p.m., the fire had jumped the 210 and moved into the Shadow Hills area.

The Rye Fire sparked at 9:33 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 5. and prompted the closure of Interstate 5 through the Grapevine for several hours. 

A smaller fire popped up Tuesday afternoon in Porter Ranch but was knocked down without threatening structures or prompting evacuations.

Among the structures burned Tuesday was the three-story Hawaiian Village apartment complex that had burned to the ground.


In LA County, television shows with large outdoor sets including HBO's "Westworld" and CBS's "S.W.A.T." halted production of because of worries about the safety of cast and crew.

And the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, which hold workouts near the Ventura County fire, canceled practice Wednesday.

UCLA issued a statement telling staff, faculty, and students not to attempt to come to campus until the situation is resolved. Wednesday classes were optional and students should check with their instructors, the university said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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