Wildfire in West Los Angeles creates hellish scenes along freeway
As Southern California firefighters continue their struggle to contain fires throughout Los Angeles and surrounding counties on Wednesday, commuters found themselves driving next to raging fires that now are threatening the Westwood, Brentwood and Bel-Air neighborhoods of West L.A.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Bel-Air fire, which shut down the 405 freeway in both directions, began in the hills of Brentwood and traveled up the Santa Monica Mountains into the Bel-Air neighborhood.
Described as a “fast moving, 6-acre wildfire” by the Times, the fire has prompted evacuations in the gated community of Bel-Air with several homes now burning. Officials have also closed the 405 freeway in both directions, as the fire rages in the hills along the Getty Center exit.
The Getty Museum, a gem containing historic works of art, is threatened by the flames.
The strong, desiccating Santa Ana winds have created ideal conditions for wildfires, by compressing hot air in the L.A. basin, and prompting the spread of embers well ahead of any fires that crop up. The winds are also helping to cause fires to exhibit extreme fire behavior, making them difficult to impossible to control.
West Los Angeles neighborhoods are connected by the Santa Monica Mountains, known to hikers and Angelenos as the “backbone.” That interconnectivity is what has prompted officials to warn residents of Mandeville Canyon and other areas in Brentwood to prepare for evacuation. The Skirball Museum and a number of schools along Mulholland Drive — which divides the city from the valley — could be threatened along with the Getty.
Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Fire Department is also fighting the Creek Fire in the Sylmar and surrounding areas of L.A. County.
As of 10:30 p.m. ET Tuesday night, the fire remained zero percent contained, according to the L.A. Fire Department. A far larger blaze is still burning further northwest, with at least 65,000 acres having gone up in flames near Ventura.