These Photos Of The California Wildfires Are Horrifying
Huge swaths of California are currently burning due to wildfires which have closed schools, museums, and prompted the closure of one of Los Angeles' busiest freeway. Residents are scrambling to escape the fire's destruction, and many have been posting photos of the California wildfires as they evacuate.
Several homes in the Bel-Air neighborhood were on fire early Wednesday, with heavy winds leading to the partial closure of the 405 Freeway. Many who live in homes in the path of the fire were under mandatory evacuations and dozens of schools were shut down, as well. On Wednesday morning, the fires had already destroyed many homes, according to the Los Angeles Times, though the full impact won't yet be known until smoke and fire can be cleared from the impacted areas.
By Wednesday, the fires were already so powerful that a NASA satellite captured images of thick smoke from space. Unfortunately, they're likely to get worse and could spread over a larger area due to heavy Santa Ana winds that were expected pick up throughout Wednesday and Thursday, according to LA fire officials.
In recent years, rains had hit the area before the Santa Ana winds came — this year, however, brought a perfect storm of dry conditions and wind. Already, the fire has burned more than 83,000 acres over three days.
Images from the scene are harrowing, showing firefighters battling the blaze to little avail and flames licking the side of homes.
2017 Is The Worst Year On Record For Wildfires In California
These fires are the latest to devastate portions of California in recent months. In early October, fires tore through Northern California, leaving 42 people dead, some 100,000 displaced, and at least 8,400 homes and buildings destroyed. Those fires proved especially harmful to those in the Napa and Sonoma Valley wine-making communities, which rely on ash-free soil to grow grapes.
And just as the region was starting to get back on its feet, a new rash of fires began to spread – this time, in Ventura, and increasingly near Los Angeles.
Thousands Have Been Evacuated
Since Monday night, roughly 200,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. On Wednesday, police in Los Angeles ordered a mandatory evacuation of all homes between two of the area's most well-known addresses: Mulholland Drive on the north and Sunset Boulevard on the south.
The Fires Are Jumping Highways
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reported that one of the brush-fires had reached the Pacific Ocean, jumping Highway 33 before crossing the 101 Freeway, which has not yet been closed. Fire officials are now focused on preventing the fire from impacting the Ojai Valley and moving into more densely populated areas, like Los Angeles.
One blaze was largely concentrated near the historic Getty Center arts complex, which was closed on Wednesday to "protect its collection from smoke from fires in the region." At least two homes near the Getty were already engulfed in flames on Wednesday morning, according to ABC 7, which noted that the fire was zero percent contained.
Commuters Are Dangerously Close To The Flames
The L.A. Fire Department said that the fire broke out along the 405 Freeway at shortly before 5 a.m. on Wednesday. By mid-morning it had already burned through 50 acres alongside the freeway.
Still, portions of the road remained open. Many took to Twitter and Instagram to share photos and videos of the fires while driving down the 405, which some users called "a gigantic ball of orange." Others wrote that the experience amounted to the "scariest commute" of their lives — one that was mired in even more gridlock than is typical for the freeway.
Homes Have Been Destroyed
By Wednesday morning, the blaze had already consumed several mansions (including, reportedly, Rupert Murdoch's) and 150 acres of some of L.A.'s most expensive properties, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Skirball fire (the blaze raging near the freeway) had already destroyed at least four to six homes on Wednesday morning, according to the Times.
Those Who Aren't In The Direct Path Are Still Affected
With air quality in the surrounding areas being deemed "unhealthy," Los Angeles County officials urging residents to avoid going outdoors and to avoid vigorous exercise.
Those in the San Fernando Valley and Malibu areas were most impacted Wednesday by the smoke and were advised to keep their windows and doors closed.
The Full Impact Won't Be Known For A While
More than a month after the fires hit their peak in Napa, residents are only just beginning to pick up the pieces. According to the OC Register, rising temperatures and heavy winds will increase the fire danger on Thursday, meaning it could be quite some time before the fire can be contained.
California authorities have secured a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist in firefighting efforts, though even before the most recent fires, 2017 was the worst year on record for wildfires in the state.