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Getty Fire burns 650 acres, forces thousands to evacuate in LA

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LOS ANGELES -- Crews battled a raging fire that started near the Getty Center in west Los Angeles Monday and burned homes as it ballooned to about 650 acres, forcing thousands to flee.

A resident called California Highway Patrol around 1:30 a.m. to report a fire on a hillside near Interstate 405 and a power line that may have fallen, officials said.

The blaze grew to 70 acres within a couple hours. By afternoon it had scorched around 600 acres, Los Angeles Fire Department said, and by Tuesday morning the blaze was up to about 658 acres and 5% contained.

Eight homes were destroyed and five others partially damaged, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a Monday afternoon news briefing.

More than 10,000 homes and businesses were placed on mandatory evacuation orders as the blaze ripped through hillside neighborhoods. Residents within the following areas were told to leave home immediately, KTLA reports:

  • Northern border – Mulholland Drive
  • Southern border – Sunset Boulevard
  • Eastern border – 405 Freeway
  • Western border – Temescal Canyon Road

A helicopter makes a water drop as the Getty Fire rages on LA's Westside.

I-405 remained open through early morning as the blaze moved west, away from the freeway, but all southbound lanes were closed from Interstate 101 to Sunset Boulevard. The freeway reopened later Monday evening.

Officials told residents they could head to the nearby Westwood, Stoner and Van Nuys-Sherman Oaks recreation centers if they were forced to evacuate. Animals were collected at the West Valley and West LA animal shelters. Find detailed evacuation information here.

More than a dozen schools in Los Angeles Unified School District were closed for the day. Find a full list here.

The portion of Brentwood burning is known for its multi-million dollar estates, and is home to athletes and entertainers including basketball superstar LeBron James, who said on Twitter that he was evacuating.

The Getty Center, the nearby museum renowned for its architecture, gardens and views of the city, was originally not considered threatened by the blaze, but flames could later be seen at the edge of campus. Museum officials told the San Diego Union-Tribune that while some external portions of the center could be damaged, the art and archives were considered safe.

“The Getty is an incredibly safe place for the art,” Vice President of Communications Lisa Lapin said. “It’s sealed and it’s secure. There are double walls. We’re very confident. The Getty Center is safe right now thanks to a combination of our fire prevention measures and the fire fight from the air."

The fire was not considered a threat to nearby University of California Los Angeles, but the college cancelled classes because so many students and faculty members lived in evacuation areas.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced California received more emergency federal aid to fight the fire. Newsom declared a statewide emergency Sunday for the series of wind-whipped wildfires already plaguing both ends of the state.

"California is grateful for the ongoing support as we battle fires up and down the state in extremely severe weather conditions," Newsom said. "I thank our heroic emergency responders and volunteers for their tireless, life-saving work to safeguard communities across the state."

Video of the fire posted on Twitter overnight showed students from a nearby campus scrambling to evacuate.

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