One of several wildfires raging in the hills above Los Angeles is "directly across the freeway" from the Getty Center, the main campus of the J. Paul Getty Trust and home to the Getty Museum, according to the Trust's vice president for communications.
The Skirball Fire started near the 405 Freeway and Mulholland Drive just before 5 a.m., Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart said. Gusts of more than 45 miles per hour in the fire areas were picking up embers from the burning hillsides and structures, sending them wafting downwind where they set additional homes on fire.
The new fire came as part of a series of wind-driven fires that had destroyed more than 180 homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
As fire engines rushed from fire to fire and exhausted fire crews attempted to gain control over the increasingly volatile situation, Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said vegetation in the region is drier "than I've ever seen it" in his 31 years as a member of the LAFD. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility. The exception to the evacuation order was the Bel-Air Crest housing development, which was not threatened, according to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. The only fire in which there was any containment was the Rye, at 5%. "There's nothing you can do except get out".
"If a circuit is turned off, then it will not be re-energized until wind speeds have been reduced and the circuit has been assessed, which may include a physical inspection", the statement said. Blake Chow reminded Southlanders that red flag parking restrictions were still in place in the Hollywood and West Los Angeles areas, which are meant to keep streets open for firefighting equipment.
The Getty Center has a sophisticated air filtration system that can reverse directions and push air out, Hartwig said.
The wildfires have so far scorched 65,000 acres of land in southern California and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes. More than 50 public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were also shuttered.
"We are still in the middle of an aggressive and active firefight on the ground", said Robert Welsbie, spokesman for the Ventura Fire Department.