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Getty Fire Breaks out in Los Angeles, Adding to California’s Fire Woes

Climate
Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate their homes after a fast-moving wildfire erupted early Monday morning near the famous Getty Center in Los Angeles. Xinhua / Qian Weizhong via Getty Images

Yet another wildfire has ignited in California as the state battles wind-driven blazes that have forced nearly 200,000 from their homes and left around a million without power due to preventative outages, CNN reported Tuesday.


The Getty Fire sparked at around 1:30 a.m. Monday near Los Angeles' Getty Center, the Los Angeles Times reported. It has since burned more than 600 acres and prompted evacuation orders for around 10,000 structures, including Mount St. Mary's University.

The around 600 firefighters battling the blaze faced the added challenge of strong Santa Ana winds, which carried some embers a mile ahead of the rest of the fire.

Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Chief Ralph Terrazas told the Los Angeles Times that firefighters were "literally overwhelmed."

"They had to make some tough decisions on which houses they were able to protect. Many times, it depends upon where the ember lands," he said.

The fire has damaged six homes and destroyed eight, according to the most recent update from the LAFD. It is now five percent contained.

The fire broke out in a wealthy area home to many celebrities, CNN reported. Los Angeles Lakers basketball player LeBron James, actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and actor Clark Greg all tweeted that they had evacuated, Reuters reported.

James shared his difficulty finding a place to stay.

"Had to emergency evacuate my house and I've been driving around with my family trying to get rooms. No luck so far!" he wrote.

Later, he tweeted that he had found accommodation.

But the city's less affluent residents had a very different experience: Many landscapers and housekeepers who work in the evacuation zone turned up to their jobs as normal Monday, either unaware of the evacuations or unwilling to miss a day's wages, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Staff writer Brittny Mejia spoke to 72-year-old gardner Teofilo López, who was raking leaves in the yard of an evacuated home. Mejia asked him if he was scared.

"What can I do?" he answered. "I need the money, I need to work."

Meanwhile, in Northern California, the Kincade Fire continues to rage. It has now burned 74,324 acres, destroyed 123 structures and is 15 percent contained, according to a Monday evening update from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

Two first responders were hospitalized because of burns, CNN reported. All told, fires in Sonoma County have forced 190,000 to flee their homes, according to Reuters.

The high winds driving the fires have also prompted utility Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) to shut off power to 965,000 customers to prevent more fires, CNN reported. Around 587,000 of those customers still did not have power Monday evening. An additional 240,000 to 600,000 customers could have their power switched off Tuesday when another wind event is predicted.

Despite the outages, PG&E may be the immediate cause of the Kincade Fire. One of its 230,000-volt transmission lines had a malfunction right before the fire ignited, The Guardian explained.

The climate crisis is also encouraging the conditions that fuel California's wildfires and making the fire season longer.

"[W]hile wildfires are a natural part of California's landscape, the fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year. Climate change is considered a key driver of this trend," Cal Fire said, according to The Guardian.

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