The photos and videos shot by commuters on the world’s busiest freeway were eerie and haunting as a fast-growing wildfire burned its way toward some of the world’s most expensive neighborhoods Wednesday morning. A small brush fire along the 405 freeway in Los Angeles didn’t have to grow much before it started threatening Bel-Air and the world-renowned Getty Center art museum not far from UCLA.
The wind-whipped blaze has already destroyed four to six homes in the area and has forced the evacuations of many more, including the tens of thousands of people who live between the historic Mulholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As the fire grew to 150 acres and roared to the edge of the 405, officials made the decision to temporarily close the interstate, preventing many commuters from making it to work on one of the few freeways that cut through the Santa Monica Mountains separating the heavily populated San Fernando Valley from the central regions of LA. An actress who captured video while driving past the blaze exclaimed at the intensity of the heat coming through her car window.
One photo showed the flames of Skirball Fire licking at the property of the Leo Baeck Temple, a Jewish reformed synagogue right across the 405 from the tram that brings Getty visitors up the hillside to the museum.
At a time when the wildfire season is over for the northern parts of the nation, the LA area is experiencing warm, dry winds that create a perfect storm for fires to easily spread across the highly flammable foothills surrounding many neighborhoods.
LA Fire Department Capt. Cody Weireter exclaimed, “You’ve got heavy, heavy brush, you’ve got the dryness — obviously, we haven’t had any rain at all. A lot of the fire is topography-driven, which already becomes dangerous. The wind is going to increase that twofold.”
Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox News, is seeing his own home and vineyard threatened, according to the LA Times. The estate was once owned by Victor Fleming, the man who directed “Gone With the Wind” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
Elsewhere in the region, the Creek Fire has forced the evacuations of 150,000 people near Sylmar. At least 30 homes have been destroyed in the area, according to the Alameda Patch.
Further to the west, the Thomas Fire has consumed an area equal in size to Orlando as it burns its way into the coastal city of Ventura, according to the Washington Post. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed and 27,000 people have been evacuated. The 65,000-acre blaze is far from being contained.
Unlike many of the fires that regularly burn in the mountainous regions of the West in the summer months, all of these fires are burning in and around heavily populated areas. Please pray for the safety of firefighters, law enforcement officers, and evacuees as they deal with this firestorm.
In other news, the father-in-law of disgraced newsman Matt Lauer is coming after him hard while defending his daughter.