Already facing dangerous wildfires across California, including a little-contained blaze ravaging tens of thousands of acres in the north, the state’s firefighters are now dealing with a new threat much farther south. The Getty Fire, which ignited before dawn Monday in the hills north of Los Angeles, has ridden high winds to consume some 500 acres of land so far.
“We have over 500 firefighters on the line right now, in some of the most challenging topography of Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference Monday. He said the fire broke out around 1:30 a.m. PT, adjacent to Interstate 405 — the busiest highway in the U.S.
The fire shut down the southbound lanes of a significant chunk of the 405 freeway Monday morning, and local authorities have ordered mandatory evacuations for an area encompassing some 10,000 structures. Social media swarmed with posts from residents telling of being rousted from their homes in the morning’s wee hours — including, it appears, Los Angeles Laker LeBron James and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Getty Center, the museum in the area for which the fire is named, said Monday that it remains safe from the blaze — even if it is cloaked in the fire’s eerie orange hues.
Roughly 450 miles to the northwest, another much more entrenched wildfire is blazing through parts of Sonoma County. The Kincade Fire, which has burned since Wednesday evening, at last check had consumed some 66,000 acres of land and destroyed around 100 structures, with more than 4,000 fire personnel assigned to fight it.
Despite raging for nearly five days, the Kincade Fire remains just 5 percent contained. Cal Fire blames the difficulties on “critical fire weather conditions” in the area: high winds up to 50 mph, low humidity and steep terrain that limits firefighters’ access.
So far, there have been no reports of casualties in either fire.
Still, even before the ignition of the Getty Fire early Monday, the sheer scale and number of wildfires confronting California — including Santa Clarita’s Tick Fire — prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a statewide emergency Sunday.
Newsom says the state has secured funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help fight the Getty Fire as well.
“California is grateful for the ongoing support as we battle fires up and down the state in extremely severe weather conditions,” Newsom said in a statement on Monday. He added, “I thank our heroic emergency responders and volunteers for their tireless, life-saving work to safeguard communities across the state.”