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Mandatory evacuations lift for many in Bel Air as Skirball Fire now 30 percent contained

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Across the freeway from the Getty Center

Firefighter in Bel Air
Firefighters managed to get a handle on the Skirball Fire Wednesday and Thursday, though it damaged or destroyed over a dozen homes.
Mario Tama | Getty Images

Editor’s note: This story is being continuously updated with the latest information.

The Skirball Fire in Bel Air is now 30 percent contained, and mandatory evacuation orders were lifted for thousands of residents in the area at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Thursday that fire and police forces would be on hand to assist those returning to their houses, and that residents should be sure to check their homes closely for any damages or potentially dangerous conditions caused by the fire.

Firefighters battling steep, inaccessible terrain are getting a handle on a brush fire burning in the hills east of the 405 freeway. Winds were not as fierce as forecasted Wednesday night and Thursday, aiding their effort.

In a tweet from his personal account, Mayor Eric Garcetti did warn that winds could shift around 2 p.m. and that a Red Flag warning from the National Weather Service indicates that extreme fire conditions will persist until Sunday.

The fire has burned through 475 acres and destroyed four homes and damaged 12 others, including an apartment building.

The Getty Center announced Thursday that it would reopen Friday. Firefighters had been sleeping overnight at the museum, which is located across from the fire on the west side of the freeway.

The blaze erupted around 4 a.m. Wednesday, near where the 405 meets Sepulveda Boulevard. Gusty winds helped drive the fire up the hill, where it’s threatening homes. Those winds diminished throughout the day on Wednesday.

“The Bel Air fire of ’61 had a similar footprint ... we lost over 500 homes in that fire. The thing that stopped that fire was the wind died down,” Los Angeles Fire Department Chief Ralph Terrazas said Tuesday. “The greatest threat will continue to be the wind.”

Residents living south of Mulholland, east of the 405, north of Sunset Boulevard, and west of Roscomare Road were ordered to leave their homes Wednesday, but last night that order lifted for residents in the following areas:

  • Casiano Road off Mulholland Drive
  • Roscomare Road, except Linda Flora Drive at Roscomare
  • Streets between Bellagio and Sunset

A few hours after the fire broke out, ABC 7 reporter Christina Salvo described the smoke as so thick on Casiano Drive that “we couldn’t see the flames ... we were seeing firefighters on peoples’ balconies with firehoses trying to drench the vegetation below.”

The inferno tore through the hillsides that hug the freeway, and it created a terrifying and apocalyptic scene for commuters.

This map, published by the Daily News, shows where the fire is burning right now—and how close it is to landmarks such as the Getty Center and the Skirball Cultural Center.

The fire is burning northeast of the Getty Center, on the other side of the freeway. The museum said on Twitter that its galleries are protected from the smoke by an air filtration system. It was forced to close Wednesday and Thursday due to the Skirball and Creek fires.

After cancelling classes Wednesday and Thursday, UCLA announced last night that classes on its Westwood campus would resume Friday.

In the San Fernando Valley, firefighters continue to battle a 15,000-acre blaze in the foothills of Angeles National Forest that forced as many as 150,000 people out of their homes earlier this week.