Some Evacuation Orders to Be Lifted for Skirball Fire Area: LAPD

Firefighters seemed to be gaining the upper hand on the Skirball fire burning in the hills near the Getty Center with containment growing to 20 percent Thursday morning.

Firefighters were contending mostly with hotspots rather than large flames but many hotspots sat directly next to homes with strong winds persisting and not expected to let up until Sunday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a Thursday news conference.

The fire broke out early Wednesday morning near the 405 Freeway and Mulholland Drive, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. The flames spread across 475 acres Wednesday, and hadn’t spread farther by Thursday.

Los Angeles City firefighters Florin Sarbu, left, Dan Smithers and Robert Caropino monitor the Skirball fire from the backyard of a home on Casiano Road. (Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City firefighters Florin Sarbu, left, Dan Smithers and Robert Caropino monitor the Skirball fire from the backyard of a home on Casiano Road. (Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

But winds as high as 70 mph, combined with heat and dry vegetation, were still fostering dangerous fire conditions, Garcetti said.

Much of the containment achieved Thursday was along Sepulveda Boulevard and the east side of the 405 Freeway as crews worked to ensure embers didn’t spread across the roadway into the Brentwood area, the mayor said. The freeway fully was reopened, though three exits through the area remained closed.

The blaze so far has destroyed four structures and damaged 12 more. Structures were still under threat Thursday, the fire department said. On Wednesday night, authorities said the fire was at 450 acres but returned Thursday to a figure released Wednesday afternoon: 475 acres.

No residents were injured, but one firefighter who was among the first to respond suffered burns around his neck, according to L.A. Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas

Around 2,200 residents were evacuated and several schools were closed, including UCLA, although the university’s medical facilities remained open. Information about schools closures within the Los Angeles Unified School District can be found here.

About 600 Los Angeles police were stationed in the area to safeguard homes and bar entry, including to residents.

At 8 p.m. Thursday, some residents will be allowed to return home. LAPD released the following details:

  • Roscomare will be open from Mulholland to Sunset for residents only, but driving west from Roscomare into neighborhoods will not be allowed from Mulholland down to Bellagio.
  • Linda Flora, Moraga and Lower Casiano will remain closed.
  • Bellagio will be open to residents only.
  • Bell Terrace and North Casiano Roads will be open to residents.

Bring proof of residency if you are trying to access these areas, LAPD advised.

Those living west of the 405 Freeway as far as Mandeville Canyon, also between Mulholland Drive and Sunset Boulevard, were under an evacuation advisory.

To those who may be remaining in mandatory evacuation areas, L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz advised, “Get the hell out and don’t come back until the evacuations are lifted.”

Terrazas announced LAFD was launching its drones for the first time ever to assess property damage and patrol hotspots. “We are very, very proud of that new technology,” he said.

The Getty Center, which had been closed since Wednesday, annouced both the main museum and Getty Villa would reopen on Friday.

The following shelters are accepting evacuees and have sleeping cots. Pets may shelter with the owner at all locations.

Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Recreation Center: 818-783-5121
14201 Huston St., Sherman Oaks

Balboa Recreation Center:  818-756-9642
17015 Burbank Blvd., Encino

Delano Recreation Center: 818-756-8529
15100 Erwin St., Van Nuys

Westwood Recreation Center: 310-473-3610
1350 Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles