A brush fire that ignited in the Sepulveda Pass Monday morning destroyed at least eight homes and forced the evacuation of thousands more, authorities said.
The blaze, dubbed the Getty Fire, broke out about 1:30 a.m. just north of Sunset Boulevard on the west side of the 405 Freeway. It scorched about 618 acres within eight hours, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
By Monday evening, it was 5% contained.
Santa Ana winds were pushing the flames west, but the blaze failed to spread since around 9 a.m., when it was first reported to cover more than 600 acres.
At least eight homes have been destroyed and another six damaged, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
“I personally saw five homes that are on Tigertail (Road) that have been lost,” Garcetti said earlier in the morning.
About 10,000 residences remained under mandatory evacuation orders Monday evening.
Firefighters were called to rescue 18 people unable to leave their homes, LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said, describing all the victims as "elderly."
Two people managed to escape by the time firefighters arrived and the rest were taken to safety, he said.
Firefighters managed to save "thousands" of homes, according to LAFD spokesman Erik Scott. Still, some Brentwood houses were so thoroughly scorched they were left without roofs and walls.
"They had to make some tough decisions on what homes they were able to protect," Terrazas said, adding that firefighters were "literally overwhelmed."
Around 11:30 a.m., a flareup was spotted near the golf course at MountainGate Country Club. Crews also faced challenges such as narrow streets that limited access and forceful winds driving the wildfires's spread, according to Scott.
"It'll be a while 'til we're able to repopulate all these areas," Scott said. "It'll take a while to get this to really quell down."
Luckily, winds began subsiding Monday evening, which coupled with increasing humidity overnight would give firefighters better conditions to battle the flames, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 29, 2019
Authorities were allowing the residents of Mountaingate, a gated Brentwood community, to return home Monday night.
But Garcetti said no other evacuations would be lifted until later Tuesday, because winds are expected to pick up Tuesday evening.
"We could allow some people to go home just to have to pull them out tomorrow," the mayor said.
NWS has warned of worsening red flag conditions later into the week, with a "potentially stronger Santa Ana wind event" late Tuesday into Thursday.
According to Terrazas, fire officials are trying to learn from previous blazes in the same area, such as the Bel Air Fire of 1961.
"We know what could happen in a worst case scenario based on the history," Terrazas said. "That's why we're being very careful about repopulating those areas."
The Bel Air Fire tore through more than 6,000 acres and destroyed nearly 500 homes in the Brentwood area, according to LAFD.
Meanwhile, an arson investigation has been launched into the fire's cause, Garcetti said — as is the process with any fire that sparks in the city, whether or not there's evidence a person started it.
"We have no reason to believe it was set by anybody," Garcetti said.
He said authorities have ruled out the possibility of a homeless encampment being involved in starting the blaze.
The mayor also mentioned a power pole that was burned, but said there's no evidence it caused the wildfire. The cause remains under investigation.
A smoke advisory was issued by South Coast Air Quality Management District, warning residents of gusts pushing smoke to the south towards Santa Monica and southeast towards downtown L.A., Burbank and the San Fernando Valley.
On Tuesday, winds are expected to push smoke to the north, towards the San Fernando Valley, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Burbank. Conditions could also bring smoke and ash into parts of northwest coastal Los Angeles.
Current air quality conditions can be viewed in this live map.
The wildfire had forced the 405 Freeway to partially close through the Sepulveda Pass, but all southbound lanes from the 101 Freeway to Sunset Boulevard were reopened at 6 p.m.
Many on- and off- ramps remained closed in the fire area.
SIGALERT UPDATE**: 405 AT GETTY CTR DR (NB/SB OFRS/ONRS CLOSED) (S/B SIDE) SKIRBALL CTR DR., SEPULVEDA BL., SUNSET BL. GETTY CTR DR., MULHOLLAND DR. AND (N/B SIDE) SEPULVEDA BL., SUNSET BL. MONAGA DR. GETTY CTR DR., SKIRBALL CTR DR. AND MULHOLLAND DR. CLOSED DUE TO BRUSH FIRE
— CHP PIO - LA County (@CHPsouthern) October 28, 2019
Topanga Canyon Boulevard was also closed to non-residents from Mulholland Highway to the Pacific Coast Highway.
The L.A. Department of Transportation tweeted out its own list of street closures:
Current road closures:
🚧 Sunset / Monaco
🚧 Sunset / Mandaville
🚧 Sunset / Rockingham
🚧 Sunset / Bristol
🚧 Sunset / Kanter
🚧 Sunset / Bundy
🚧 Sunset / Barrington
🚧 Sunset / Chautauqua
🚧 Sepulveda / Mountaingate@LAFD @LAPDHQ @ReadyLA @LACity @MikeBoninLA #GettyFire
— LADOT (@LADOTofficial) October 28, 2019
About 10,000 homes were under mandatory evacuations, according to the Fire Department.
Those evacuations were in effect for residents within the following borders:
- east of Temescal Canyon Road
- north of Sunset Boulevard
- west of the 405 Freeway
- south of Mulholland Drive
“We want people to be evacuated, to grab their belongings that have been predetermined, take care of their pets, their medications, their papers and to leave that area because the fire is moving right into that area,” Scott said.
The following areas are under evacuation warnings because the fire is burning in their direction:
- east of Topanga Canyon Boulevard
- north of Sunset Boulevard
- south of Mulholland Drive
- west of Temescal Canyon Road
The most current evacuations areas can be viewed in this live map.
Evacuation shelters have been set up at the following locations; however, most close at 8 p.m. and only the Westwood and Palisades recreation centers would remain open overnight:
- Westwood Recreation Center, 1350 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
- Van Nuys / Sherman Oaks Recreation Center, 14201 Huston St.
- Stoner Recreation Center, 1835 Stoner Ave.
- Palisades Recreation Center, 851 Alma Real Drive
- Cheviot Hills Recreations Center, 2551 Motor Ave.
- West Valley Animal Shelter, 20655 Plummer St.
- West LA Animal Shelter, 11361 W. Pico Blvd.
- Large animals can be taken to the Hansen Dam Recreation Area at 11798 Foothill Blvd.
Updated fire and evacuation information can be found on LAFD.org.
About 2,600 customers were temporarily without power due to the fire, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power tweeted early Monday.
We currently have approx 2600 customers without power due to #GettyFire, affecting portions of BelAir, Westwood & Brentwood. Our water and power crews are in the area ensuring adequate water supply and firefighter support and safety near power lines. @LAFD
— LADWP (@LADWP) October 28, 2019
Power was restored to all but about 900 customers, spokeswoman Dawn Cotterell said later in the morning. There was no immediate word on when power to the rest of the customers would be restored.
Southern California Edison imposed power safety shutoffs to more than 15,000 customers in the Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.
A full list of shutoffs can be found the SCE's website.
Temperatures and winds were more favorable to firefighters than during last week's blazes, Garcetti said. Although winds had been gusty, embers were not sparking new fires, he said.
Winds between 20 and 30 mph winds with gusts near 40 mph were expected through the morning, the National Weather Service stated.
The region remained under a critical fire weather warning through Monday evening.
Red flag parking restrictions would be in effect beginning 8 p.m. Tuesday, LAFD said.
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) October 28, 2019
UCLA and Santa Monica College canceled classes due to Monday's fire.
Many Los Angeles Unified School District campuses were also closed, as well as all Santa Monica and Malibu school district campuses.
Click here for an updated list of school closures.