(CN) – After a hellish weekend featuring hurricane-force winds that drove an uncontrolled wildfire deeper into California’s Wine Country and whipped up a series of smaller blazes that trapped motorists on major freeways, another fire threatening multimillion-dollar homes and the Getty Center arts complex sparked Monday morning in Los Angeles.
While an estimated 200,000 people fled their homes in Sonoma County due to the Kincade Fire in Northern California – which has charred over 66,000 acres in five days and is just 5% contained – the Getty Fire broke out at about 1:30 a.m. Monday and sent thousands of Los Angeles residents fleeing.
People filmed their chilling escapes down the 405 Freeway as they fled the latest fire in bone-dry California. The Getty Fire threatens homes of celebrities like NBA superstar LeBron James in the Pacific Palisades and Brentwood neighborhoods west of downtown.
In a press conference Monday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed a few homes have been destroyed. He advised residents to leave their homes if they’re given evacuation orders.
“Do not wait. Do not get your own hoses. Leave it to the professionals,” said Garcetti.
“Make sure if you have evacuation notice and you’re listening to me now and you’re still in your home – leave. Leave your home. We’ve seen fires and tragedies where people have believed they can stay in place. Where they thought they could fight the fire and be a hero themselves,” he continued.
In addition to mandatory evacuations, public schools in Santa Monica and Malibu are closed and UCLA announced it was canceling classes on Monday. Fire officials said the blaze started overnight amid a Santa Ana wind event in the Los Angeles County mountains that dropped humidity levels to 5% in some neighborhoods.
The Getty Center features a wide collection of art from Roman antiquities, Italian Renaissance and 11th century sacred manuscripts, but reports place the fire north of the campus.
In 2018, the Woolsey Fire charred nearly 97,000 acres across two counties in the vicinity of Monday’s wildfire.
Most of California has seen no rain during the entire month of October, preserving dry grass and tinder well into fall and leading to red-flag fire warnings from San Diego north to the Oregon border. To make matters worse, a series of windstorms have battered the state over the last several weeks, prompting the state’s largest utility to pre-emptively cut power.
Nearly 3 million Californians again lost power over the weekend, forcing many to stay at community centers nowhere near active wildfires in order to charge medical devices that rely on electricity. While winds died down in Northern California on Monday, Pacific Gas & Electric warned customers in 32 counties the power may be shut off for the third time in a week due to high winds in the forecast this week.
Another round of power shutoffs is certain to roil state leaders, who have been extremely critical of PG&E’s willingness to leave Californians in the dark when the winds pick up.
Last week Gov. Gavin Newsom excoriated the state’s largest utility provider after the company filed a report stating it believes a transmission equipment failure may have caused the Kincade Fire. PG&E did cut power to many distribution lines in the area ahead of the fire but said its transmission lines remained energized.