3RD UPDATE, 4:08 PM: The Skirball Fire has grown to 475 acres and was 5% contained by 3 PM, Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Chuck Butler said this afternoon in the latest update on the fire. Officials say four homes have been destroyed and 11 damaged in the blaze that began just before 5 AM in the Sepulveda Pass. Winds seem to be cooperating with the brush fire, with more than 500 firefighers now on the scene.
The 405 Freeway, earlier shut down, is open in both directions, though mandatory evacuations are still in play for Bel-Air and surrounding neighborhoods. A total of 265 schools in the LA Unified School District — most in the San Fernando Vallye — will shutter tomorrow and Friday because of the air quality issues of both the Skirball and Creek fires.
The Creek fire in the northeast San Fernando Valley has reached 11,377 acres.
2ND UPDATE, 1:36 PM: Los Angeles Mayor Erik Garcetti has declared a local State of Emergency for the Skirball Fire, which is now passing 150 acres since starting early this morning in the Sepulveda Pass along the 405 Freeway, resulting in evacuations of Bel-Air and other neighborhoods near the Getty Center.
The city also just reopened northbound lanes of the 405, which had been closed since the fire broke out in the early-morning hours. Southbound lanes were reopened earlier today.
The emergency order, which directs relevant City departments to take all necessary steps to protect life and property in the area affected by the fires, and that state and federal assistance be provided “quickly,” is the second in two days for the city. The first was for the Creek Fire in Sylmar and Sunland-Tujunga in northern Los Angeles, which has scorched more than 11,000 acres since starting yesterday morning.
Los Angeles County Public Health today issued an advisory regarding unhealthy air quality in the San Fernando Valley and L.A. County coastal areas.
UPDATE, 10:15 AM: Los Angeles officials have expanded their evacuation order for the Skirball Fire, which has tripled in size since breaking out early this morning in the Sepulveda Pass. The southbound lanes of the 405 Freeway have reopened from the 101 Freeway to the 10 Freeway, with several multimillion-dollar homes burned so far in the high-end residential neighborhoods above the Sepulveda Pass.
Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a morning press conference that the fire, which started just before 5 AM, is now at 150 acres with no containment. About 350 firefighters are on the scene.
The L.A. Fire Department said mandatory evacuations are now in effect for the area east of the 405, Mulholland Drive to the north, Sunset Boulevard to the south, and Roscomare Road to the east. Fire officials at the presser just now referenced the 1961 Bel-Air fire as having a similar “footprint”; that two-day brush fire destroyed nearly 500 homes in the Bel-Air-Brentwood area, though there were no fatalities.
Four off-ramps on the southbound lanes of the clogged 405 remain closed in the affected area. The northbound lanes of 101 remain closed from the 10 to Mulholland Drive. Smoke from the Skirball Fire and the nearby Creek Fire have created hazy conditions across the city.
The neighborhoods are home to plenty of Hollywood and media figures, and offices of companies like Participant Media are closed. 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.
Chelsea Handler said she is among the evacuees, as is Lionel Richie, who said he is canceling his Las Vegas concert tonight.
PREVIOUS, 7:42 AM: The city of Los Angeles awoke to a new brush fire today after a wild Monday that saw at least three major fires rage in the region. This one started overnight in the key 405 Freeway corridor that serves as a main artery between West L.A. and the San Fernando Valley, closing lanes, prompting evacuations in the tony Bel Air and Holmby Hills neighborhoods, and threatening the Getty Center complex that towers above the freeway in the Sepulveda Pass.
Two of the city’s cultural centers — the Getty Center and the Skirball Center just to the north of it — have shuttered for the day due to the fire, as are portions of the 405 both directions from the 101 Freeway in the Valley to the 10 Freeway including all on- and off-ramps and transition roads. It will make one of the nastiest commutes in the city even more challenging.
The fire is at about 50 acres as of the LA Fire Department’s latest estimates about 45 minutes ago, but is growing, fueled by strong Santa Ana winds and tinder-dry conditions in the region for a second consecutive day. There are 220 firefighters on the scene so far this morning.
The LA Fire Department has ordered mandatory evacuations for Moraga Drive, Linda Flora Drive and Casiano Road down to Bellagio Road, and is asking residents to be prepared to evacuate the area east of the 405, Mulholland Drive to the north, Sunset Boulevard to the south, and Roscomare Road to the east.
Yesterday, the fires shuttered production on CBS’ S.W.A.T. and HBO’s Westworld owing to a quickly growing brush fire in Santa Clarita in northern Los Angeles.