The fast-spreading fire above the 405 Freeway in Bel-Air is causing chaos for the homeowners who’ve now been forced to evacuate. Many of them are professionals in the entertainment industry who are living their own disaster movie. Randall Emmett, co-founder of the production/finance company Emmett/Furla/Oasis, described a scene after he was forced to evacuate himself and his two daughters from their home on Mulholland Drive.
“After my daughters’ school was closed yesterday, the smoke was really bad yesterday and I brought my daughters to a hotel last night because I didn’t want them breathing that air,” Emmett told Deadline. “This morning I got the phone call, that I better get up there because evacuation was likely. My daughters were a little frantic, their hamster Lucky was in the house. You think it’s probably just some brush fires, but I turn on the TV, and everything is on fire, 50 acres. You cannot really process it, and the first instinct is denial and shock.” Emmett drove past rescue crews and firefighters, and, high neighbors, as all rushed to salvage what was important.
“I could see the fire down below, as I ran in and ravaged my own house, grabbing every personal thing related to my children, all the things you can’t replace, things like pictures,” he said. “I threw boxes of the stuff in my car and as I was driving away, just as the firefighters there said the evacuation had become mandatory. I am glad I got there when I did, but I was looking back, the sun was coming up, and the level of smoke was just gigantic. This is the most upsetting thing I’ve have seen here since I visited during the Northridge earthquake.”
Emmett said that numerous colleagues have already begun posting notices that they have room for friends who had to evacuate and might not be able to find hotel space. He and his daughters will wait it out in the hotel.
“There are going to be many people in Los Angeles who won’t easily find places to live, some who don’t have the means to go to hotels,” Emmett said. “At this point, you hug your kids, and watch the news to see if the fire is spreading. At this point, I know my home isn’t burning, but it’s atop the area that is burning and it is impossible to know where the fire will go and whether it will be contained because the winds are expected to kick up. They have now evacuated all of the Bel Air area, it has to be hundreds of people. These fires are popping up out of the blue. It is upsetting on all kind of levels,” said Emmett, his voice cracking.
Meanwhile, local news outlet NBC4 is reporting that Rupert Murdoch’s sprawling estate on Moraga Avenue is the path of the fire; the eight-acre property features his personal Moraga Vineyards winery. No word yet from 21st Century Fox on that status.
Fellow residents Chelsea Handler and Chrissy Tiegan have both tweeted they were forced to evacuate.
Mandeville Canyon resident Norman Lear and his wife told Deadline today they “are preparing to leave the house pending official notice.” That area is next on the evacuation list, according to residents.
Deadline’s Dominic Patten contributed to this report.