UPDATE, 4:45 PM with new details of repopulation: Some residents in the area of the Skirball Fire who were evacuated after it started yesterday morning will be allowed back in their homes tonight, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said during a press conference this afternoon. The good news comes more than 24 hours after the blaze started that shuttered the 405 Freeway on Wednesday morning.
The City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department gave the following details for residents, who can begin returning in some areas by 8 PM:
Roscomare will be open from Mulholland to Sunset for residents only. You will not be able to drive west from Roscomare into neighborhoods from Mulholland to down to Bellagio. Linda Flora, Moraga and Lower Casiano will remain closed. Bellagio will be open to residents only, however you can only access roads to the South from Bellagio. Bell Terrace and North Casiano Roads will be open to residents.
Meanwhile, Getty Center, which had been closed the past two days, will reopen for business tomorrow, and UCLA in Westwood to the east will resume classes tomorrow after closing today amid concerns about whether expected strong winds would make the fire, now at 450 acres, unpredictable.
Garcetti also said this afternoon that some residents would be able to return to their homes impacted by the Creek Fire, the blaze in Sylmar and Sunland/Tujunga that has now hit 12,605 acres, with 10% containment. Some areas including the hard-hit Shadow Hills area above Lake View Terrace will not be allowed back in yet.
Two other brush fires have started this afternoon fueled by high Santa Ana winds and dry conditions: the Liberty Fire is burning in Murietta in San Bernardino County and the Lilac Fire started today in San Diego County.
The biggest fire remains the Thomas Fire in Ventura, which forced the closure of the 101 Freeway between Ventura and Santa Barbara for a time early this morning.
UPDATE, 2:14 with FCC statement: Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai says the FCC stands “ready to assist” federal, state, and local emergency first responders on the ground. Said Pai in a statement, “I am pleased to hear reports that Wireless Emergency Alerts have been used successfully to warn affected communities, including the use of clickable URLs in text messages that give the public direct access to additional public safety information.”
PREVIOUS, 12:18 with Skirball Fire update: The Skirball Fire that broke out near the Getty Center yesterday and closed the 405 Freeway for a time has calmed somewhat today along with the winds, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He said in a press conference just now that the fire has grown from 450 to 475 acres but is now 20% contained, with 400-600 personnel on the ground.
The evacuation zone in and around Bel-Air remains in effect, but that status is expected to be updated around 3 PM. Concerns remain about wind gusts that have been expected to be as high as 80 mph combined with low humidity, and a record fire danger rating in Los Angeles. Crews here are most concerned with embers jumping the fire west of the 405, which remains open today although three on- and off-ramps in the area remain closed.
Garcetti also reported that the Creek Fire burning in northeast Los Angeles has grown to 12,605 acres, 10% contained, with 15 structures destroyed and 15 damaged. A total of 1,680 personnel are on the scene of that blaze in Sylmar and Sunland/Tujunga.
PREVIOUS, 8:23 AM: The massive Thomas Fire that has been roaring through Ventura County north of Los Angeles grew overnight thanks to increasing winds and forced the temporary closure of the 101 Freeway early this morning between the coastal towns of Carpinteria and Ventura. That move for a time shut down all access to Santa Barbara from the city of Ventura; the freeway has just been reopened, according to the CHP.
That fire has now reached 96,000 acres, and officials fear the worst wind day so far this week in Southern California as the region battles major brush fires, scorching almost 120,000 acres altogether. Wind gusts are expected to reach 80 mph in some spots, with humidity under 10%.
In Los Angeles, the Burning index rating, a daily reading of fire danger, is currently at 296, according to fire officials, a record. It’s scale runs from 0 to 165, the latter number indicating “extreme conditions.”
The Skirball Fire, which for a time fully shuttered the key 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass yesterday morning in L.A. destroying four homes and forcing evacuations in Bel-Air and surrounding neighborhoods, kept its line overnight and is at about 450 acres. But nearby UCLA this morning canceled classes for the day amid the uncertainty about the wind. Overnight, firefighters worked to keep the fire from jumping the 405 to the west, where it would have plenty of dry fuel to expand.
At the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita that among other things shuttered production on CBS’ S.W.A.T. for the past two days (it is resuming today, CBS confirmed) and HBO’s Westwood on Tuesday when the fire broke out, has burned 7,000 acres but was stopped overnight from encroaching into Simi Valley, one valley to the west of the sprawling San Fernando Valley. The latter Valley now has active fires on three sides (the third, the Creek Fire in Sylmar and Sunland/Tujunga, is at 12,605 acres and 10% contained). San Fernando Valley schools are shuttered for the rest of the week.