Southern California Wildfires Nearing LA Airports, Close Down 405 Freeway
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At least four out-of-control wildfires are blazing in Southern California and forcing the evacuations of thousands. One fire is nearing LAX and Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR), and has already forced authorities to closed down parts of the 405 Freeway in what’s expected to be a brutal job for firefighters that will last several days.
Currently, the fires are not affecting air travel.
“The airport is open and flights remain operational, although we remind passengers to check their flight status with their airline.,” Burbank Airport said on Twitter.
Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
“It’s critical residents stay ready and evacuate immediately if told to do so,” Brown said in a statement.
The Skirball Fire, as fire officials are calling it, has torn through 50 acres and injured three people since it broke out Wednesday morning, but, fueled by 25 mph Santa Ana winds and dry conditions, is expected to grow through Thursday and possibly beyond. Several Bel Air homes are reportedly on fire, and the fire is poised to engulf the million-dollar homes of some of Los Angeles’s wealthier neighborhoods, including Brentwood. The J. Paul Getty Museum has closed because of the smoke, and most schools in the area have shut their doors. Both sides of the 405 have been shut down between the 101 and the 10.
There have been no reported fatalities yet, but the first fire, which began Monday and has been dubbed the Thomas Fire, prompted the evacuations of 27,000 residents from Ventura County on Tuesday and has burned at least 65,000 acres. It has jumped Highway 101 between Ventura and Santa Barbara.
Another fire by the Angeles National Forest, the Creek Fire, has burned more than 11,000 acres, caused mandatory evacuation orders for 150,000 residents, and was responsible for the deaths of dozens of horses. The Creek Fire has destroyed at least 30 structures so far.
Another fire near Santa Clarita, the Rye Fire, has burned 5,000 acres and forced evacuations of schools and trailer parks.
The freeway closure has already caused a tremendous number of traffic problems in Los Angeles — the 405 is the main conduit to LAX — and social media has been flooded with photos taken by commuters and passengers showing scenes of cars and planes against hellish backdrops that seem like they could have been spliced in from a Michael Bay action movie.
TPG editor-at-large Zach Honig is currently at LAX and posted a photo on Twitter showing smoke over the San Gabriel mountain range, noting that the airport “seems unaffected for now.”
Feature photo: Edward Aguilar runs through the flames from the Thomas Fire to save his cats at his mobile home along Highway 33 in Casita Springs in Ventura County Tuesday. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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