Several homes in Los Angeles’ Bel-Air neighborhood were burning Wednesday morning as a wind-driven wildfire prompted a full closure of the 405 Freeway as well as mandatory evacuations in an area of multimillion-dollar homes.
The fire was estimated to cover about 50 acres by 6:20 a.m., but Los Angeles fire officials said it was being fueled by 25 mph winds and would likely grow.
Ash and smoke swirled in the sky as dozens of firefighters fought flames atop hills adjacent to the 405. Television news video showed multiple homes in flames.
Authorities have ordered the evacuation of all homes between Mulholland Drive on the north, Sunset Boulevard on the south, Roscomare Road on the east and the 405 Freeway on the west. Earlier in the morning they ordered evacuations along Casiano Road, Moraga Drive and Linda Flora Drive. Residents of Mandeville Canyon and Sullivan Canyon should be prepared for evacuation, the department said.
The fire also caused massive gridlock along one of the city’s most congested commuter corridors. Caltrans announced the full closure of the 405 Freeway between the 101 and 10 freeways. It has also closed all onramps to the 405.
Residents near Bel Terrace and North Sepulveda Boulevard raced outside their homes Wednesday morning as flames encroached on their homes.
Beverly Freeman, 83, pulled out of her driveway ahead of the flames just before 7 a.m. She didn’t take any belongings with her.
As Freeman drove away from the two-story gray house that her husband built for her three decades ago, she was not sure if she would have a home to return to.
“I was going to die in this house,” she said as tears came to her eyes. “The flames have never come so close.”
Across the street, Ebrahim Kadkhuda ran inside his one-story home and grabbed some family pictures.
“It grew so fast,” he said, looking at the orange flames as he loaded up his black Toyota.
The fire, which was first reported to be in the Brentwood neighborhood, started shortly before 5 a.m. and was moving uphill, the Fire Department said.
The fire was burning on the east side of the 405 Freeway across from the Getty Center, where winds were blowing up to 25 mph.
Officials said more than 125 firefighters were on the scene and that water-dropping helicopters were being used.
The fire started near the 405 and was burning near homes at the top of a ridge.
All schools in the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District are closed Wednesday, as are the following Los Angeles Unified School District campuses: Roscomare Road Elementary, Community Elementary Magnet Charter School and Kenter Canyon Elementary School.
Times reporter Kate Mather contributed to this report.
7:45 a.m.: This post was updated with new evacuation orders and school closures
7:20 a.m.: This post was updated with residents evacuating.
6:55 a.m.: This post was updated with the full closure of the 405 Freeway.
6:10 a.m.: This post was updated with details on evacuation orders.
5:50 a.m.: This post was updated with acreage burned and freeway closure.
This post was originally published at 5:35 a.m.