California Fires: Blaze Breaks Out Near Getty Center In Los Angeles

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Wildfires burned near Ventura, Calif., on Tuesday. Tens of thousands of people in the region were told to evacuate. Credit Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

A brush fire erupted on the west side of Los Angeles before dawn on Wednesday, threatening some of the city’s priciest homes and blocking traffic on one of its busiest freeways, while a much larger fire continued to rage out of control in the Ventura area.

The Ventura fire, which broke out on Monday, had grown to 65,000 acres by Wednesday morning and continued to burn unabated, according to Cal Fire, the state firefighting agency. The fire had destroyed at least 150 structures, and possibly many more, state officials said, and 12,000 buildings were threatened.

Evacuation orders covering thousands of people were in effect for parts of the city of Ventura and surrounding communities, and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency. The fire forced the closure of parts of the 101 Freeway, along with many smaller roads.

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A home was lost to the flames in Sylmar, Calif., on Tuesday. Credit Gene Blevins/Reuters

The new fire ignited before 5 a.m. on Wednesday, near the 405 Freeway in the Bel Air and Holmby Hills neighborhoods of Los Angeles, and quickly grew to about 50 acres. The authorities closed the northbound lanes of the interstate, one of the major links between the bulk of the city and the San Fernando Valley, and ordered the evacuation of some residential areas.

The blaze posed a risk of jumping across the highway, where it would threaten the Getty Center museum and the Brentwood neighborhood.

The fires are being driven by high winds, which are expected to strengthen through Wednesday and Thursday, with gusts of 60 miles per hour, making firefighting conditions much more difficult.

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California has seen some of its most destructive fires ever this year. In October, even as more than a dozen fires broke out in the northern part of the state, a separate one quickly grew in the Anaheim Hills, burning through thousands of acres. The fires have collectively killed more than 40 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses.

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