As Fires Spread Across Los Angeles, Museums and Galleries Close

Irfan Khan—LA Times via Getty Images

Irfan Khan—LA Times via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a nearby small but growing 50-acre brush fire early this morning that forced the partial closure of the heavily traveled Interstate 405, near scenic Mulholland Drive.

More than 1,000 firefighters worked through the night protecting buildings, including City Hall, where the flames reached the parking lot, destroyed a couple of cars and left an adjacent hillside blackened and smoldering.

Lord said the restaurant wasn't in immediate danger, but she anxious that the winds would pick up overnight.

As neighborhoods turned into scenes of vast ruin and freeways closed down, California got a frightening replay of the October infernos in Wine Country that killed 44 people, destroyed 8,900 structures and, like the Thomas Fire, were driven by nighttime windstorms that blasted flames from more rugged areas into communities built along the edge of the wildland.

The largest and most destructive of the fires, an 85-square-mile (220-sq. kilometer) wildfire in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles, had almost reached the Pacific on Tuesday night after starting 30 miles (48 kilometers) inland a day earlier.

"We are still in the middle of an aggressive and active firefight on the ground", said Robert Welsbie, spokesman for the Ventura Fire Department.

Campus freshman Makani Kirwin said her family in Ojai has opened their home to many evacuated friends.

The "Skirball" fire ignited Wednesday morning and quickly grew to engulf about 150 acres around the district, home to celebrities and billionaires including SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and pop superstar Beyonce.

The video shows the man chasing the rabbit after it ran across the road as flames from the Thomas Fire burn just feet away. Three firefighters were injured and hospitalized in stable condition, the Los Angeles Fire Department said.

"Very strong winds" blowing from the northeast to the southwest were causing the fire to balloon, he said, warning Angelenos to be ready to flee at a moment's notice. The fire was zero percent contained Tuesday afternoon, officials said.

By 8 a.m., the fire had covered 50 acres, and 25 miles per hour winds are expected to help it grow.

But don't fret: Here are some suggestions on how to help victims of the Southern California fires.

California utility companies can be held financially liable for wildfire damage linked to their equipment, even if they followed all applicable safety rules.

Fred Mariscal said Red Cross officials expect about 400 people at the shelter Tuesday night.

Dozens of schools were also closed in neighboring Ventura County, where the largest of the area blazes, the Thomas Fire, has charred more than 95,000 acres.

The Skirball Fire - named after the Skirball Cultural Center in northern Los Angeles - burned 475 acres in the Sepulveda Pass near the Getty Center, The Los Angeles Times reported.