Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was among the Southern California residents who had to leave their homes as mandatory evacuations were issued early Monday, after a “very dynamic fire” erupted on a hillside near the Getty Center museum, fire officials said.
The Los Angeles Fire Department is urging residents to evacuate the Mountain Gate and Mandeville Canyon communities, between Mandeville Canyon Road and Interstate 405 north of Sunset Blvd., due to the explosive blaze.
The fire erupted around 2 a.m. local time in the Sepulveda Pass along Interstate 405 near the Getty Center Museum community and the hill-top golf community of Mountain Gate. By 7:45 a.m. ET, officials said it had already grown to encompass over 250 acres as more than 470 LAFD firefighters with assistance from neighboring agencies rushed to combat the blaze.
“This is a very dynamic fire that is moving in a westward direction.,” the LAFD said.
James, one of the NBA’s most prominent athletes, tweeted he had to evacuate from his home after the blaze erupted, calling the fires “no joke.”
“Had to emergency evacuate my house and I’ve been driving around with my family trying to get rooms,” he said, later sharing they were able to find somewhere to accommodate them.”I [pray emoji] for all the families in the area that could be affected by these [fire emojis] now! Pretty please get to safety ASAP.”
Flames could be seen on hillsides, with winds fanning the blaze as it grew rapidly. Helicopters were attempting to conduct airdrops, and the flames appeared to be near large homes in the area of the upscale community of Brentwood.
An evacuation warning was issued in the area from Mulholland Drive to the north, Topanga Canyon to the west, Sunset to the south and Mandeville Canyon to the east, and expanded westward to include parts of Topanga State Park and the Pacific Palisades.
Evacuation centers are open in Westwood and Sherman Oaks.
Videos posted to Twitter by motorists on the 405 showed hillsides engulfed in fire as crews rushed to the scene.
“The 405 freeway a few miles from Santa Monica looks just like a scene in Volcano,” another Twitter user wrote.
“There are mandatory evacuations in place and all residents West of the 405 and South of Sunset need to be vigilant and prepared,” the LAFD tweeted.
Mount Saint Mary’s University tweeted its Chalon campus near the Getty had been evacuated under orders from the LAFD. Students were taken to the school’s Doheny campus. Evacuations were also ordered for 200 people in a care facility next door, FOX11 reported.
Although the Getty Center is nearby, officials say the facility was built with thick walls and doors that should be able to compartmentalize any flames. The Getty Center said on Twitter a “serious brush fire” was burning in the hills north of the facility.
“Currently the fire is moving west and away from the Getty, and we have activated emergency operations,” the museum said, adding that it was preparing to assist emergency responders.
The blaze in Southern California comes as the Tick Fire near Santa Clarita was 70 percent contained as of Sunday night. Up north, crews are grappling with a wildfire in Sonoma County that officials say covers 85 square miles and caused the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people.
Fire conditions statewide made California “a tinderbox,” said Jonathan Cox, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Of the state’s 58 counties, 43 were under red flag warnings for high fire danger Sunday, with the threat lasting into Monday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Friday in response to the wildfires, which have been powered by gusts reaching more than 102 mph.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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