The blaze broke out at around 1:30 a.m. local time near the Getty Center on the west side of Los Angeles.
Fast-moving flames forced Monday thousands of Los Angeles residents to flee their homes and threatened the city’s renown Getty Center museum, as part of the latest blaze in a wildfire season that has triggered mass evacuations and power outages across California.
The fire broke out at around 1:30 a.m. local time near the Getty Center on the west side of Los Angeles, hundreds of km from where teams were fighting the state’s biggest and most destructive fire, the Kincade, north of San Francisco.
Across the state in Los Angeles, the Getty Fire had charred more than 202 hectares in the scrub-covered hills around Interstate 405, near some of the city’s most expensive homes, by mid-afternoon.
The flames had destroyed eight structures, damaged five others and prompted the University of California at Los Angeles, about 3.2 km from the Getty Center, to close for the day, along with a number of public schools.
Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said his firefighters had told him “they were literally overwhelmed” in the early hours of the Getty fire. “They had to make some tough decisions on which houses they were able to protect.”
Officials at the Getty said the fire was burning north of the building, which was designed with thick stone walls to protect its art treasures.
“I know this moment generates a tremendous amount of anxiety,” California Governor Gavin Newsom told reporters at a press conference, adding he was confident that firefighters had secured enough perimeters around the Kincade fire that it no longer posed an imminent threat to two communities north of Santa Rosa, although he conceded the fight was not over.
“I’m not naive about shifting winds and shifting conditions so we are putting all the assets we have onto this fire,” said Newsom, who declared a statewide emergency last week.