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Bel-Air Wildfire Joins the Siege Across SoCal

  • Homes stand along the beach as the sun is visible through thick smoke from a wildfire Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Ventura, Calif. A dramatic new wildfire erupted in Los Angeles early Wednesday as firefighters battled three other destructive blazes across Southern California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Crystal Shore look over the wildfire damaged neighbors home along Via San Anselmo in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Maurice Kaboud makes a phone call after a wildfire threatened his home in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. When firefighters told Kaboud to evacuate, he decided to stay and protect his home. The 59-year-old stood in the backyard of his multimillion- dollar home as the Skirball fire raged nearby. "God willing, this will slow down so the firefighters can do their job," Kaboud said. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • Flames from the Thomas fire burn above a truck on Highway 101 north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

  • File - In this Nov. 8, 1961 file photo, Zsa Zsa Gabor, aided by a friend, Robert Straile, digs through the ashes of her $275,000 Bel-Air home in Los Angeles. Nearly 500 homes burned in the area during the infamous Bel Air Fire of 1961. Celebrities, including Burt Lancaster and Zsa Zsa Gabor, lost homes in the fire. (AP Photo/Dick Strobel, File)

  • With the west Los Angeles skyline in the background, sprinklers wet down the roof of a home after a wildfire swept through the Bel Air district of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • A firefighter mops up at a home consumed by a wildfire in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. A dangerous new wildfire erupted in the tony Bel Air area of Los Angeles early Wednesday as firefighters battled three other destructive blazes across Southern California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

  • Flames sweep up a steep canyon wall, threatening homes on a ridge line as the Skirball wildfire swept through the Bel Air district of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • The Getty Center lies shrouded in smoke as firefighters keep watch on a nearby canyon from the terraces of homes in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles after the Skirball wildfire swept through Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. A destructive wildfire that erupted early Wednesday burned not far from The Getty Center, the $1 billion home to the J. Paul Getty Museum and related organizations that overlooks Los Angeles from a perch on the southern slope of the Santa Monica Mountains. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • Flames from the Thomas fire burn above traffic on Highway 101 north of Ventura, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

  • Neighbors walk past a home destroyed by wildfire along Via San Anselmo in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • The remains of a wildfire destroyed home smolders along Via San Anselmo in the Sylmar area of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Bree Laubacher pauses while sifting through rubble at her Ventura, Calif., home following a wildfire on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. A barbecue smoker and her son's batting cage survived the blaze. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

  • A multi million-dollar home is a smoldering ruin after a wildfire swept through the Bel Air district of Los Angeles Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

  • Los Angeles firefighters stand on a fire engine during sunrise as they battle flames on Casiano Road after the Skirball fire swept through the Bel Air district of Los Angeles, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)



Associated Press
Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Los Angeles — A wildfire erupted in Los Angeles’ exclusive Bel-Air section on Wednesday as yet another part of Southern California found itself under siege from an outbreak of wind-whipped blazes that have consumed multimillion-dollar houses and tract homes alike.

Hundreds of homes across the L.A. metropolitan area and beyond were feared destroyed since Monday, but firefighters were only slowly managing to make their way into some of the hard-hit areas for an accurate count.

As many as five fires have closed highways, schools and museums, shut down production of TV series and cast a hazardous haze over the region. About 200,000 people were under evacuation orders. No deaths and only a few injuries were reported.

From the beachside city of Ventura, where rows of homes were leveled, to the rugged foothills north of Los Angeles, where stable owners had to evacuate horses in trailers, to Bel-Air, where the rich and famous have sweeping views of L.A. below, fierce Santa Ana winds sweeping in from the desert fanned the flames and fears.

“God willing, this will slow down so the firefighters can do their job,” said Maurice Kaboud, who ignored an evacuation order and stood in his backyard with a garden hose at the ready.

Air tankers that were grounded most of Tuesday because of high winds went up on Wednesday, dropping flame retardant. Firefighters rushed to attack the fires before the winds picked up again. They were expected to gust as high as 80 mph overnight into today, possibly creating unprecedented fire danger.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection uses a color-coded wind index in its forecasts. Tomorrow’s forecast is purple, the most extreme conditions, which has never been used before, director Ken Pimlott said.