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Skirball Fire in Sepulveda Pass grows to 475 acres, 5 percent containment

A firefighter loads belongings into the trunk of a resident's Bentley as she evacuates her Bel Air home, at the the Skirball Fire in west Los Angeles, California, Dec. 6, 2017. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

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Evacuations | Road closures | School closures | Ask us your questions!

The Skirball Fire grew to 475 acres and was at 5 percent containment by Wednesday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. 

About 700 homes, one apartment building and one elementary school have been evacuated, according to LAFD. The department estimates that 46,000 people are being affected. 

Four residential structures have been destroyed, and 11 were damaged by the fire, LAFD Deputy Chief Chuck Butler said.

"Although conditions look favorable right now, we do have forecasted weather coming in tonight," Butler said at the news conference. "We anticipate that the Santa Ana Winds will return later this evening, so it's critically important that we get containment on this fire prior to that time."

Those in Mandeville Canyon area, Brentwood or Bel-Air should be prepared to evacuate if necessary, authorities said at a press conference Wednesday night.

Wind had started to pick up early Wednesday evening.

The Skirball Fire broke out along the 405 Freeway at Mulholland Drive shortly before 5 a.m., threatening homes and prompting evacuation orders across the freeway from the Getty Center.

LAFD officials said that more than 350 city firefighters with 52 department fire engines were on scene, with additional county resources that include at least one helicopter and several hand crews. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has also declared a local state of emergency to free up state and federal resources to fight the fire.

Fierce Santa Ana winds have fed several destructive wildfires across Southern California this week. The Thomas Fire in Ventura County, which broke out Monday evening and quickly spread across nearly 80 square miles, destroyed at least 150 structures and prompted tens of thousands of people to evacuate. A second fire broke out near Sylmar early Tuesday. The Creek Fire also prompted thousands of evacuations. Both continued to burn Wednesday.

The Getty Center and its sister site, the Getty Villa, were closed to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday in order to protect their collections from the smoke.

"We have very sophisticated air filtration systems that keep smoke from invading the galleries and protecting the art, but obviously heavy traffic in and out of the galleries, opening and shutting the doors, compromises that system, and that's why the decision was made to close to the public," said Ron Hartwig, the Getty's vice president of communications.

The Getty Center houses many valuable master oil paintings, an extensive photographs collection, drawings, manuscripts, sculptures and other artworks, including four current exhibitions that are part of Pacific Standard Time LA/LA.

"Ironically, this month we will begin celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Getty Center," Hartwig told KPCC, speaking from the museum. "And fortunately the Getty Center was built in such a way to protect the collections from fire, and we're very happy about that today."

Evacuations

A map of evacuation areas can be found below:

 

Evacuation centers currently accepting evacuees:

Large animals can be taken to the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds at 2551 W Ave H in Lancaster and the Fairplex at 1101 W McKinley Ave in Pomona. 

Smaller animals can be taken to any City of Los Angeles animal shelter. 

School closures

All Santa Monica-Malibu schools were closed Wednesday.

UCLA staff, faculty and students who were not already on campus were being advised to stay away. Classes beginning at or after noon on Wednesday were canceled according to a "Bruin Alert" from the university.

There were "numerous power outages" on the school's Westwood campus, a university spokesperson confirmed. Since then, power has been restored.

According to UCLA's website, the school's Early Care and Education, Geffen Academy and Lab School are closed. 

Mount Saint Mary's University evacuated its Chalon campus in Brentwood to the campus in downtown L.A. due to power outages in the area. The university provided shuttles for members of the university community who do not have cars.  

Classes were canceled at Santa Monica College.

Road closures

The California Highway Patrol says the traffic event triggered by the Skirball Fire is worse than Carmaggedon, the 2011 closure of the 405 for construction that made national headlines.

"Please, please, please avoid the area. It's going to allow first responders to get to the area a lot quicker," said Siara Lund, a public information officer with CHP.

The 405 was officially closed in both directions for much of the morning commute.

According to LAPD,  lanes in both directions have since reopened, though the two right lanes on the northbound 405 at Getty Center Drive remained closed, according to the California Department of Transportation. 

Traffic incidents are expected to continue as the fires progress.

"Especially with these winds, we really don’t know how long it’s going to take to contain this fire," she said. "Unfortunately we have so many fires burning in Southern California right now, there’s only so many resources."

ASK US YOUR QUESTIONS

KPCC journalists are covering the fires burning across Southern California and are working hard to answer community members' questions. Let us know what you need to know below.

This is a developing story.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misreported the start day of the Skirball Fire. KPCC regrets the error.