Thousands ordered to flee fast-moving Los Angeles wildfire

Thousands ordered to flee fast-moving Los Angeles wildfire

Thousands of people in Los Angeles were ordered to evacuate after a fast-moving brush fire ignited early on Monday morning near the Getty Center museum, the latest outbreak in a wildfire season that has caused disruption at both ends of California.

The fire broke out shortly after 2:30 a.m. local time and has since grown to consume more than 400 acres in the hills around Interstate 405, near some of the city's most expensive homes.

"We have fires all the time in Los Angeles. But our ability to knock them down in past years is much stronger, because we didn't have these extreme shifts of wind, we didn't have these extreme shifts of weather," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcettis said as fire tore through a home on a nearby hillside.

About 3,300 homes are in the mandatory evacuation area, including that of Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James.

Officials at the Getty said the fire was burning to the north of the museum, which was designed with thick stone walls to prevent fire from damaging its treasures.

The fierce winds fanning wildfires elsewhere in the state, including a large fire consuming parts of the picturesque wine country north of San Francisco, were expected to abate on Monday.

But forecasters with the National Weather Service said high winds would return later in the week and could be the strongest so far this year in the south of the state.

The northern California wine country has borne the brunt of the fires, with 218 square km burned and 190,000 people evacuated in the so-called Kincade fire.

Only about 5% of that fire was contained early on Monday after crews lost ground against the wind-driven wildfire a day earlier.

About 3,000 people were battling the Kincade Fire, the worst of more than a dozen major blazes that have damaged or destroyed nearly 400 structures and prompted Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a statewide emergency.

More than a million homes and businesses were without power on Monday morning. Most of the those were from planned outages: High-wind forecasts had prompted PG&E to shut off power to 940,000 customers in 43 counties on Saturday night to guard against the risk of touching off wildfires.

But PG&E expects to issue weather "All Clear" for safety inspections and restoration work to begin early Monday morning for the northern Sierras and North Coast, the company announced early Monday.

Newsom said crews had largely "gotten their arms around" the Tick Fire near the city of Santa Clarita, some 35 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, which has charred 4,615 acres (1,868 hectares) and destroyed 22 structures since Thursday.

Most of the more than 40,000 residents ordered to evacuate were allowed to return home by Saturday afternoon, the county fire department said.