Among the many wildfires in southern California this past week that have destroyed hundreds of homes and forced more than 200,000 people to evacuate, one of the smallest among them got the most attention because of its proximity to one of the world’s most renowned art museums, well-known universities, and most expensive neighborhoods.
Shocking images and videos of the Skirball Fire last week went viral as they showed fully engulfed hillsides burning right above the Sepulveda Pass on the world’s busiest freeway in the early morning traffic hours. Although small, the wind-driven fire burned the dry, brushy hillsides and raced toward the exclusive Bel-Air neighborhood and UCLA, sending burning embers sailing into the air right across the 405 freeway from the Getty Center art museum.
Celebrities on social media asked for prayer and reported their own evacuations, along with the evacuations of their 40,000 neighbors, in a large swath of house-covered foothills between the LA basin and the San Fernando Valley. Lionel Richie, Paris Hilton, and Lea Michele were among those who were forced to flee their multi-million-dollar mansions.
Evacuee Chelsea Handler, on the other hand, chose to blame President Trump for the fire.
But now the cause of the Skirball Fire, which also burned its way into a Bel-Air vineyard owned by Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch, according to Bloomberg, has been revealed. According to a KTLA 5, it was started by an illegal cooking fire.
Investigators say the fire began in a homeless encampment next to where the 405 freeway crosses over Sepulveda Boulevard. Three firefighters have been injured in the resulting blaze, at least 6 homes were destroyed, and at least 12 more were damaged. The Los Angeles Police Department visited the encampment but found what is left of it to be abandoned.
As of Tuesday, the Skirball Fire is at 85 percent containment. Further south, the newer Lilac Fire has damaged or destroyed 200 homes and other buildings north of San Diego near Oceanside. The Thomas Fire, north of LA, has entered its second week and is only 20% contained, according to the Los Angeles Times. NPR reports that the fifth largest fire in the state’s history has grown to over 234,000 acres, has killed at least one person, and has burned over a thousand homes.
Please continue to pray for the people who have lost their homes and businesses and the firefighters battling these devastating blazes. In other news, a CNN has been ridiculed after airing a report on the health effects of Trump’s soda drinking habit during breaking news of a terrorist attack.