Mandatory evacuations lift for many in Bel Air as Skirball Fire now 30 percent contained

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Editor’s note: This story is being continuously updated with the latest information.

Mandatory evacuations are in place for 46,000 residents in Bel Air as a brush fire burns in the hills east of the 405 freeway, across from the Getty Center. Dubbed the Skirball Fire, it has consumed 475 acres and destroyed four structures and damaged 11 others, including an apartment building, CBS2 and KPCC report.

“Our plan is to try to stop this fire before it becomes something bigger,” says Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

CBS Los Angeles also reports the blaze is 5 percent contained. It erupted around 4 a.m., near where the 405 meets Sepulveda Boulevard. Gusty winds helped drive the fire up the hill, where it’s threatening homes. Those winds diminished during the day but were starting to pick up again.

“The Bel Air fire of ’61 had a similar footprint … we lost over 500 homes in that fire. The thing that stopped that fire was the wind died down,” Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said at a 9:30 a.m. press conference. “Right now, we’re experiencing favorable wind conditions.”

Evacuation Centers

  • Delano Recreation Center at 15100 Erwin Street in Van Nuys
  • The Balboa Recreation Center at 17015 Burbank Boulevard in Van Nuys
  • The Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Center at 14201 Huston Street in Sherman Oaks
  • Westwood Recreation Center, 1350 Sepulveda Boulevard in Westwood

“The greatest threat will continue to be the wind. If the wind dies down, we’ll continue to get a handle on this,” Terrazas added. “As we speak, I think we can make a lot of progress.”

Residents living south of Mulholland, east of the 405, north of Sunset Boulevard, and west of Roscomare Road have been ordered to leave their homes. Residents living west of the 405 should brace for evacuations, too, should flames jump the freeway, officials say.

“We are keeping the fire at bay. But do not use that as an excuse to stay … load up your cars if you’re close by,” Garcetti says.

ABC 7 reporter Christina Salvo says the smoke is so thick on Casiano Drive that “we couldn’t see the flames … we were seeing firefighters on peoples’ balconies with firehoses trying to drench the vegetation below.”

Dramatic video shows how quickly flames are spreading as the #SkirballFire explodes to 150 acres amid 25 mph winds in the Sepulveda Pass area.

— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) December 6, 2017

The inferno tore through the hillsides that hug the freeway, and it created a scary and apocalyptic scene for commuters.

The 405 freeway has reopened in both directions after closing this morning from the 10 to the 101.

This map, published by the Daily News, shows where the fire is burning right now—and how close it is to landmarks such as the Getty Center and the Skirball Cultural Center.

The fire is burning northeast of the Getty Center. The museum said on Twitter that its galleries are protected from the smoke by an air filtration system. It had announced Tuesday that it would be closed today due to smoke from other area fires.

UCLA announced Wednesday morning that classes at its Westwood Campus would be optional and that students living off-campus should stay home. Later, university officials cancelled all classes.

In the San Fernando Valley, firefighters continue to battle an 11,000-acre blaze in the foothills of Angeles National Forest that has forced as many as 150,000 people out of their homes, including all those living north of Foothill Boulevard from Sylmar to Sunland-Tujunga.

The weather forecast doesn’t bode well for containing either blaze; according to the National Weather Service, “moderate to strong” Santa Ana winds are likely to continue blowing through Friday, with wind speeds up to 60 miles per hour expected Wednesday along the ridges of the Santa Monica Mountains.

#SkirballFire from the Expo Line

— Laura E. Davis (@lauraelizdavis) December 6, 2017

#SkirballFire#Gettycenter #405 this is happening while going south on 405 to #LAX NB 405 closed #TrafficAlert prayers for all the families up in these hills.

— Joe Mendez (@jamraiders95) December 6, 2017

Got the text alert from #LAFD 1.5 hrs ago for #SantaMonica to keep a close watch on the #SKIRBALLFIRE. Homes are under mandatory evacuation about 8 miles from here. Large flakes of ash falling like snow and can see giant smoke plumes.

— ajah (@ajah) December 6, 2017

Hoooly that’s so close to us RT @70sspacepunk: Today was scariest morning commute of my life:

— Lesina Gaea (@xoLesina) December 6, 2017

Absolute terrifying commute this morning.

— Matt Smith (@mlsutah) December 6, 2017

Not the typical morning commute…

— A. Mutzabaugh CMT (@WLV_investor) December 6, 2017

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