Getty Fire: Many Mandatory Evacuations Lifted, Containment Grows

A firefighter works on a house destroyed by a wildfire called the Getty Fire in Los Angeles, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

Note: This story is no longer being updated. Please check LAist in the morning for the newest information, or see the additional resources below.


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Crews have made progress battling the Getty Fire, which is burning in the Mandeville Canyon area west of the 405 Freeway, but we're not out of the woods yet. The fire has chewed through 745 acres and destroyed or damaged more than a dozen homes. Arson investigators have determined the fire was sparked by a broken tree branch that was blown into power lines.

It's one of several high-intesity fires — including the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County and the Tick Fire in the Santa Clarita area — that have displaced tens of thousands of Californians, prompting Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a statewide emergency over the weekend.

As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, though, most evacuations involving the Getty Fire were lifted.

Firefighters have said that "the fire and the hotspots no longer threaten those areas," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "[It's the] really extraordinary work by our firefightehs, a blessing of some less strong but still powerful wind today, but not as bad as it could have been, that gives us the confidence to do that."

Garcetti added that he hopes all evacuations will be lifted by late tomorrow morning.

The windy weather remains the biggest challenge facing fire crews. They expect 30-50 mph winds with gusts up to 70 mph. Combined with low humidity, "This all adds up to an extreme fire weather threat, meaning that conditions are as dangerous for fire growth and behavior as we have seen in recent years," according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

THE BASICS

  • Acres burned: 745
  • Containment: 39%
  • Injuries: None reported
  • Structures damaged or destroyed: At least 12 structures destroyed, five damaged
  • Structures threatened: 7,091 homes
  • Resources deployed: About 760 personnel across multiple agencies

RELATED: California Fires Are Getting Worse. What's Going On?


WEATHER CONDITIONS

An "extreme red flag warning" was in effect as of Tuesday night. It will last through 6 p.m. Thursday. Winds of 30 to 50 mph are expected and peak gusts could hit 70 mph in the mountains.

Rich Thomson, an incident metereologist with the National Weather Service has been assigned to assist crews battling the Getty Fire. He told KPCC/LAist on Tuesday that it was the first time he remembered his office describing a red flag warning as "extreme."

He said the combination of gusty Santa Ana winds, low humidity and dry brush could add up to the strongest red flag event since October 2007, when the Witch Fire ravaged San Diego, destroying more than 1,600 structures.

"That's why we're using that really strong wording, to really get the word out to people that this could be a very potentially significant event," Thomson said. "More so than your run-of-the-mill Santa Ana, which can cause fires and issues. All the parameters come together for this particular event, [making] the potential for extreme fire behavior and extreme fire growth to occur."

Thomson wasn't the only one raising the alarm.

The city has another measure of risk called the brush index, which takes into account the humidity, heat and wind strength. The highest index the city has seen, Garcetti said Tuesday, was 266, just before the Thomas Fire. For this wind event, the index is 301.

"So for folks who are right now anxious to get home, please listen to that number very carefully," Garcetti said. "That is something which we have never seen since we've been putting this brush index together."

This means L.A.'s red flag parking restrictions have been in effect since Tuesday at 8 p.m.

On Tuesday, LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas once again urged residents to sign up for the city's emergency alerts.

"It's a dangerous season right now," Terrazas said earlier this week. "Santa Ana winds pick up in September and last through April. We have not had any significant rainfall for a period of time. So that's why we're very, very concerned about these weather conditions."

L.A. County sent a few tips via Twitter about how to prepare for extreme wind:

You can read more about how to prepare for possible power outages here.

EVACUATIONS

Mandatory evacuations were issued in the area with the following borders:

  • Northern border: Mulholland Drive (EXCEPT in the Mountaingate community where I.D. is required)
  • Western border: Temescal Canyon Road
  • Southern border: Sunset Boulevard
  • Eastern border: 405 Freeway

As of 5:00 p.m. Wednesday, all evacuations have been lifted except the area with the following borders:

  • West border: Kenter Ave
  • South border: Sunset Blvd
  • North border: Area just south of Mountain Gate Ave
  • East border: Area adjacent to the 405 & Sepulveda Blvd

Voluntary evacuations were issued in the area with the following borders:

  • The Mountaingate community turned from a mandatory evacuation area to a voluntary evacuation area at 5 p.m. Monday
  • Northern border: Mulholland Drive
  • Western border: Topanga Canyon
  • Southern border: Sunset Boulevard
  • Eastern border: Temescal Canyon Road

Los Angeles police are offering people escorts back to their homes for five to 10 minutes to pick up medication and pets. Evacuees will need to be able to show identification with proof of residency. Officers will take a photo of that identification. See below for a list of locations to obtain an escort:

  • Gelson's Parking Lot, 15424 Sunset Boulevard, Pacific Palisades
  • United States Post Office, 200 South Barrington Avenue, Los Angeles
  • Paul Revere Middle School, 1450 Allenford Avenue, Los Angeles

EVACUATION CENTERS / SHELTERS

For people:

  • Westwood Recreation Center, 1350 South Supulveda
  • Palisades Recreation Center, 851 Alma Real Dr.
  • Van Nuys/Sherman Oaks Recreation Center, 14201 Huston St. (CLOSED)
  • Stoner Recreation Center, 1835 Stoner Ave. (CLOSED)
  • Cheviot Hills Recreation Center, 2551 Motor Ave. (CLOSED)

For animals:

  • West Valley Animal Shelter, 20655 Plummer St.
  • West L.A. Animal Shelter, 11361 W Pico Bl.
  • Large Animals: Hanson Dam Recreation Center, 11770 Foothill Blvd.

Another potentially life-threatening impact from the fire emerged Tuesday: as the city of L.A.'s animal shelters take in displaced pets, there is now less room for the homeless pets already there.

The city's animal services department said Tuesday that some local shelters are in urgent need of people to foster and adopt animals.

More information is available on the L.A. Animal Services website.

ROAD CLOSURES

  • Temescal Canyon Road northbound is closed at Sunset Boulevard
  • Sepulveda Boulevard northbound is closed from Moraga Drive to Skirball Center Drive
  • Sepulveda Boulevard southbound is closed form Skirball Center Drive to Sunset Boulevard

SCHOOL CLOSURES

All schools in Malibu will remain closed Thursday. LAUSD updates are available here. Check with your local school or school district for other information.

AIR QUALITY

Check AQMD's website for a live map of air quality conditions.

BACKGROUND

The Getty Fire broke out just after 1:30 a.m. Monday, Oct. 28 about 50 acres west of the 405 Freeway near Sunset Boulevard, not far from the Getty Center. Within hours, it had spread to hundreds of acres and prompted thousands of mandatory evacuations.

Arson investigators determined that the fire was caused by a eucalyptus tree branch that broke off and was carried by the strong winds into power lines 30 feet away. The contact caused an arc that sent sparks flying onto the ground, igniting the fire.

LADWP general manager Marty Adams said utility crews had cleared the brush around the pole in July and that they maintain space around their equipment that is beyond the state recommendations.

"In this unfortunate situation. It could have been a tree branch, could have been a palm frond from across the freeway, a Mylar balloon. Any of those things entering into the area are things that we cannot control so that makes the challenge of how to deliver reliable power [and] at the same time be vigilant on a windy day such as we had these last few days," Adams said Tuesday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti called it an "act of god."

HOW WE'RE REPORTING ON THIS

Reporters Sharon McNary and Jacob Margolis provided coverage from the scene of the fire. Digital producer Ryan Fonseca and Elina Shatkin kept this story updated. Additional research and reporting was being done by LAist staffers and KPCC newscast producers.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, check the following websites and social media accounts:

FIRE RESOURCES

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