Scores of images and videos that looked like something out of a movie spread across social media Wednesday as the "Skirball Fire" spread through Southern California. The fire, which started Wednesday morning before the sun rose, illuminated hundreds of acres as motorists drove along the 405 freeway capturing the frightening scene.
Fightfighters have been racing to draw containment lines around the series of blazes that have ravaged homes and businesses and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate. Battling the fires have been a task due to the winds and extremely parched conditions. The latest wildfire, which now makes four, threatens Los Angeles' affluent Bel-Air area, affecting 46,000 people. A man was even caught on camera trying to protect his million-dollar mansion with a firehose. A break in the fierce winds helped a little, by afternoon the 475-acre Skirball Fire was 5% contained, Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Chuck Butler said.
"The forward movement of the fire has been stopped at this time," Butler said at an afternoon news conference. "When the winds come up (later in the day) ... they will want to push that fire across the 405 freeway. That's why it's critically important that we get some containment on this tonight."
Earlier, 9 miles of Interstate 405 -- one of the nation's busiest freeways -- were shut down after flames swept down the foothills before dawn as stunned motorists watched and captured the scene on video. The fire was on the other side of the highway from both the Skirball Museum and the Getty Museum, which closed for the day.
Heavy Santa Ana winds were blamed for spreading the infernos and still threaten to increase the destruction. The winds are expected to pick up Wednesday evening and Thursday, perhaps with gusts of 50 mph, posing a risk of further fire spread.