As a raging conflagration now called the Skirball Fire engulfed the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles on Wednesday morning, December 6, the nearby Getty Center and its fabled J. Paul Getty Museum appeared to be safe for the time being.
The so-called Skirball Fire was reported shortly before 5 a.m. near Mulholland Drive, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The 405 North freeway remains closed between the 10 and the 101 freeways, making it challenging to access some local businesses.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for homes on Moraga Drive, Linda Flora Drive and Casiano Road down to Bellagio Road. Some 50 acres had burned within a matter of just two hours as Los Angeles firefighters contend with wind gusts of up to 30 mph.
The fire led to the closure of multiple freeways, include the very congested 405. Officials for the J. Paul Getty Museum said air filtration systems are protecting the galleries from smoke, but the museum is closed to the public Wednesday.
The 405 has now been closed as a precaution, but that was after thousands of Bel-Air residents drove right beside the inferno on Wednesday evening.
The Thomas Fire in Ventura County has scorched 65,000 acres while the Creek Fire in Los Angeles County had scorched 11,377 acres.
Nicknamed the Skirball Fire, it was reported at 5 a.m. near Mulholland Drive, a five-minute drive from the Skirball Cultural Center. "With winds like this, it can be anything", Garcetti said, referring to the powerful Santa Ana winds that continued to blow across the region.
A smaller fire popped up Tuesday afternoon in Porter Ranch but was knocked down without threatening structures or prompting evacuations. People who live in Mandeville and Sullivan canyons should be prepared to leave their homes, authorities said.
UCLA issued a statement telling staff, faculty, and students not to attempt to come to campus until the situation is resolved.