California wildfire threatens Getty Center

Firefighters are battling a blaze burning near the University of California and the Getty Center arts complex in Los Angeles.

Posted: Dec 6, 2017 12:28 PM

A new wildfire closed part of Interstate 405 early Wednesday near Los Angeles' posh Bel Air area and prompted evacuations -- one in a series of blazes that have scorched more than 83,000 acres, burned scores of buildings and forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes over three days.

The closure of I-405 -- a significant north-south artery in the country's second-largest city -- came after flames swept down the foothills toward the highway near Sepulveda Pass and the Getty Center arts complex as stunned motorists drove by shortly before 6 a.m.

"It was dark until I saw a gigantic ball of orange," motorist Tiffany Lynette Anderson wrote on Instagram, where she posted a picture of fire raging beside the highway before it shut down. "On absolute fire. I'm grateful to be safe -- truly grateful."

Videos of that 50-acre blaze, dubbed the Skirball Fire because of its proximity to the Skirball Cultural Center, showed bright flames glowing ominously close to motorists.

Los Angeles authorities ordered parts of the tony Bel Air district near the fire to leave -- but those are just a fraction of the evacuations that have been ordered in Southern California since Monday night.

Wind-whipped wildfires are burning extremely dry terrain along the northern and western edges of Los Angeles, and, more extensively, Ventura County, northwest of the city, for a third day.

Live updates: Wildfires spread in Southern California

Heavy Santa Ana winds blamed for spreading the infernos still threaten to multiply the destruction.

The winds might die down during sunlight Wednesday, but they're expected to pick up in the evening and Thursday -- perhaps as gusty as 50 mph, posing a risk of further spread.

Smoke collected even in areas that weren't burning. Health officials warned people in the heavily populated San Fernando Valley and other parts of the northern Los Angeles area to limit their time outdoors.

Latest developments

The largest fire: The biggest blaze is the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, burning at least 65,000 acres, including parts of Ventura, a city of more than 100,000 people along the Pacific coast. It started Monday evening in a rural area and spread to the city. Officials said the fire has destroyed at least 150 buildings, including an evacuated mental health facility.

• Curfew enacted: On Tuesday, the city of Ventura declared a daily curfew, beginning from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., to protect residents and prevent crime such as looting in evacuation areas.

• Told to leave: More than a quarter of Ventura's residents (38,000 people) have been told to evacuate. More than 12,000 buildings were under threat, officials said Wednesday.

Creek Fire in northern Los Angeles: The second-largest inferno is the Creek Fire, having burned around 11,000 acres in and near northern Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

• Mass exodus: About 150,000 people in Los Angeles were under evacuation orders Tuesday. The number Wednesday, after the orders given because of the fire near I-405, wasn't immediately clear.

• Power outage: About 43,000 homes were without power Tuesday night, according to Southern California Edison. More outages are possible because flames were burning along power transmission paths, a spokeswoman said.

Other fires: The Rye Fire near Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County grew to about 7,000 acres. That fire was spotted near the Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia.

In San Bernardino County, two smaller fires sprang up. One is fully contained, while the Little Mountain Fire is at 100 acres.

Fire could go on for days

The Thomas Fire spanned 65,000 acres (about 101 square miles) in Ventura County, which sits just north and west of Los Angeles.

The number of destroyed structures was unknown due to the intensity of the fire, but officials had estimated about 150 buildings early Tuesday.

In Los Angeles, the Creek Fire went from 4,000 acres to 11,000 in a matter of hours Tuesday.

"We expect to be out here all week fighting and containing this fire," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

The fires spewed so much smoke that they were captured in a NASA image from space.

California Gov. Jerry Brown declared an emergency for Ventura County, freeing state resources such as the National Guard to support response efforts.

'Everything that I have ... is gone'

Fires tore through neighborhoods, razing homes to the ground, reducing them to gray smoldering ashes. It also burned Vista del Mar Hospital, an 82-bed mental health facility in northwestern Ventura, which was fully evacuated two hours before, county fire engineer Richard Macklin said.

Residents who had to evacuate from their homes described tense moments as the fires rapidly approached.

"The embers from the trees were dropping on our cars," said Mary Robinson, a Ventura resident, who fled Monday night. "We're so blessed that we still have a house. I can't believe it, because the fire was so close."

Another Ventura resident, Samantha Wells-Zuniga, escaped with her family and watched her apartment complex burn down.

Speaking through tears, she told CNN affiliate KABC, "We've been watching all these disasters on TV, you really don't think about when it happens to you, and what do you pack in that moment?"

They escaped with a few Christmas presents.

"Now, everything that I have, except for my lovely family, is gone," she said.

The Thomas Fire jumped to thousands of acres with startling speed as Santa Ana winds, blowing as fast as 35 to 50 mph, carried its embers. The fire quickly devoured dry chaparral, as the county has been in a period of moderate drought.

Satellite images show how fast it lit up neighborhoods at night.

The winds were part of the season's "strongest and longest" Santa Ana event. The Santa Anas are strong, dry winds that high-pressure systems push from east to west, from the mountains and desert areas down into the Los Angeles area.

A red-flag warning, which is for extreme weather conditions that could cause wildfires, is in effect until 8 p.m. PT Friday.

Terre Haute
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 51°
Robinson
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 48°
Indianapolis
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 57°
Rockville
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 49°
Casey
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 57°
Brazil
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 51°
Marshall
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 51°
Clear, Bright Moon
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1671275

Reported Deaths: 27903
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63319811182
DuPage1078031375
Will910281124
Lake797931082
Kane68211868
Winnebago40918559
Madison40014592
St. Clair36230595
McHenry34584326
Champaign26931196
Peoria26845368
Sangamon25682284
McLean22947217
Tazewell20601330
Rock Island18783360
Kankakee17848248
Kendall16162113
Macon15259250
LaSalle14983285
Vermilion14303199
Adams13097152
DeKalb12114133
Williamson12027174
Whiteside8265183
Jackson808394
Boone790483
Coles7857122
Ogle754587
Grundy735386
Franklin7317115
Knox7244169
Clinton7113102
Macoupin6927104
Marion6907143
Henry661677
Effingham658099
Jefferson6523143
Livingston596098
Stephenson580992
Woodford575292
Randolph553799
Christian531882
Fulton525875
Monroe5243103
Morgan505299
Logan494274
Montgomery489881
Lee478060
Bureau442190
Saline433169
Perry432375
Fayette429564
Iroquois419977
McDonough373460
Shelby345848
Jersey335153
Crawford331330
Lawrence330833
Douglas326237
Union305848
Wayne301762
White279333
Richland279057
Hancock273035
Cass265330
Clark265240
Pike263358
Clay258254
Edgar256749
Bond255625
Warren243665
Ford242859
Carroll236038
Moultrie231433
Johnson225131
Wabash217019
Jo Daviess215129
Massac214148
Mason212752
Washington211628
De Witt204930
Greene204840
Mercer203435
Piatt200914
Cumberland189526
Menard171913
Jasper161021
Marshall141221
Hamilton133622
Schuyler107010
Brown106410
Pulaski103811
Edwards103418
Stark81228
Gallatin7878
Alexander71712
Scott7136
Henderson69814
Calhoun6902
Hardin59816
Putnam5614
Pope5476
Unassigned1632433
Out of IL70

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 1000163

Reported Deaths: 16309
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1347632106
Lake660041156
Allen57441793
Hamilton46100461
St. Joseph44109607
Elkhart35696507
Vanderburgh32087477
Tippecanoe27796257
Johnson24902443
Hendricks23738354
Porter22802362
Madison18614404
Clark18424250
Vigo17347301
Monroe15180197
LaPorte15046250
Delaware14984259
Howard14626287
Kosciusko12217147
Hancock11630175
Bartholomew11505179
Warrick11255189
Floyd11013214
Wayne10897250
Grant9964218
Morgan9404176
Boone8863116
Dubois8227130
Dearborn817093
Henry8139151
Noble7984106
Marshall7838134
Cass7499119
Lawrence7403170
Shelby7138114
Jackson694088
Gibson6533113
Harrison644491
Huntington633999
Knox6273106
DeKalb626397
Montgomery6208109
Miami589797
Putnam575377
Clinton570271
Whitley560455
Steuben554675
Wabash5279101
Jasper524475
Jefferson506996
Ripley495685
Adams476073
Daviess4616113
Scott435869
Greene422096
Wells420987
Clay420260
White415962
Decatur4133101
Fayette404286
Jennings385160
Posey375343
LaGrange353978
Washington353249
Randolph341999
Spencer337342
Fountain332558
Sullivan326752
Starke313369
Owen312070
Fulton306567
Orange291762
Jay280445
Perry264752
Franklin264042
Carroll259132
Rush258832
Vermillion255454
Parke230026
Pike227943
Tipton226659
Blackford190540
Pulaski181855
Crawford158623
Newton156048
Benton150217
Brown144547
Martin137419
Switzerland134211
Warren120516
Union106815
Ohio84112
Unassigned0538