LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — The 405 Freeway has been reopened after being shut down due to a dangerous new wildfire that erupted in the tony Bel Air area of Los Angeles early Wednesday while firefighters battled three other destructive blazes across Southern California.

The Skirball Fire exploded before dawn on the steep slopes of the east side of Sepulveda Pass, which carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains where ridge tops are covered with expensive homes. At least two could be seen burning.

The 150-acre Skirball Fire started across the freeway from Skirball Center Drive, an area located near homes and across the freeway from the famous Getty Museum and the Skirball Cultural Center.

Hundreds of firefighters battled flames on the ground as aircraft dropped water and retardant near neighborhoods on the east side of the pass.

At around 8 p.m. Wednesday, a text alert went out to millions of Californians from the state’s Office of Emergency, warning of continued high winds and urging recipients to “Stay alert. Listen to Authorities.”

The entire Sepulveda Pass, both north and southbound lanes of the 405 Freeway, was shut down just as the morning commute was gearing up between the 101 and the 10 Freeway. The pass is one of the most heavily-trafficked in the nation and is the same stretch of freeway shut down during Carmageddon. The southbound lanes reopened just before 9 a.m., and the northbound lanes were reopened at around 1 p.m. Two northbound lanes were still closed at the Getty Center Drive.

On Wednesday afternoon, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a local State of Emergency for the Skirball Fire. He had already declared a state of emergency for Tuesday’s Creek Fire burning near Sylmar.

A power outage linked to the Skirball Fire was reported around 11:30 a.m. across a swath of West Los Angeles as LADWP officials warned it could take as many as 14 hours to restore power.

Officials at UCLA said the campus was operating exclusively on internal power, with electricity out at “non-essential” buildings. Amid the fire and the power outage, afternoon and evening classes have been canceled, along with Wednesday night’s game at Pauley Pavilion, and football practice. While power was fully restored to the campus at around 1:30 p.m., the cancellations were expected to stay in place.

All LAUSD schools in the San Fernando Valley will be closed for the rest of the week, the district said Wednesday afternoon. All Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District schools will be closed Wednesday due to new fire developments.

RELATED: Hundreds Of Schools Closed Due To Wildfires

Both the Getty Museum and the Skirball Cultural Center will also remain closed a second day. Skirball says visitors who purchased Noah’s Ark tickets for Wednesday will be reimbursed.

The Bel Air Country Club, which is not in the path of the fire, said they will also close Wednesday out of an abundance of caution.

When firefighters told Maurice Kaboud to evacuate his home in Bel Air he decided to stay and protect his home. The 59-year-old stood in the backyard of his multimillion-dollar home as fires raged nearby.

“God willing, this will slow down so the firefighters can do their job,” Kaboud said.

Another homeowner said he came back to protect his house, which he just remodeled.

“Just looking at all this commotion, I don’t even know how to take it in,” he said.

Hundreds of homes burned in the area during the famous Bel Air Fire of 1961. The Getty Center art complex, on the west side of the pass, employs extensive fire protection methods. Its website says it was closed to protect its collection from smoke.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (29)
  1. Mike Arvand says:

    Well… one of those new power plants would have come in handy about now, wouldn’t it. Spare the minnow, spoil the city. Ca, you’ve made your bed. watch it burn.

    1. Martin Flynn says:

      Say what?
      Why would a hydroelectric power plant assist if firefighting? That’s just a silly comment; I’ll let you get back to your meth addiction.

  2. Marsha Moore says:

    Terrorist or illegal burning down the “rich” peoples homes.

  3. burn, baby, burn. send the dreamers home.

  4. Tom Ronson says:

    Maybe the fires are God’s revenge for being such a f****d up liberal state. I hope the whole state burns to a crisp.

  5. If you live in the LA area, a tip to get the book “The Prepper’s Urban Survival Guide to Los Angeles: A Plan to Escape, Survive, and Protect Your Family From Any Disaster” https://www.amazon.com/dp/b01kin75tc. It has a ton of great information about fires.

  6. Mike Arvand says:

    This just in. The fire self identifies as a transgender Native American rainstorm. Fighting it is clearly sexist and racist.

  7. Stu Kazzo says:

    How sad that an entire state elicits no sympathy from an entire nation and no one from this state of Sodom has stepped forward to defend from the attacks,

  8. Wouldn’t be politically correct for Democrats to admit this might be Islamic or Mexican MS13 gang terrorism. I hear CNN is blaming Judge Moore. I think it’s Harvey and friction from his constant in and out activity

  9. Intelligent people aren’t as easily-baited by internet trolls so you probably won’t see much response to your insensitive, and very “UnChristianlike” comments. Try to remember that we are citizens here too, even if we differ in politics. Also try researching how much this state contributes to the Federal government, which aids the rest of you when hit by flooding and other disasters.

  10. Mark David says:

    There are no coincidences in politics. The Senate last weekend signed the tax bill. Part of the tax bill removes the option of deducting STATE income taxes from the FEDERAL income tax form. Pelosi had a cow and said it was “Armageddon”.

    Within a day of saying that, fires began burning in Ventura and surrounding areas. Areas that had 15 to 20 years of undergrowth. (So those areas haven’t burned for quite some time, eh?)

    My hypothesis: the Democrats (aka Pelosi and other Liberals) deliberately had those fires set, with the motive of making the US feel sorry for those losing their homes and their livelihoods. The fires make President Trump look like a meanie, so he will back out on signing the bill.

    The trap: Trump WILL sign the bill, and little Democrats will still take the hit for undermining the State.

  11. . Thank your friendly neighborhood enviro-whacko of these fires.

    They won’t even let anyone go in and build roads to get equipment in to fight the fires. And if someone tries to clear some brush around their hose, a big fine will soon follow.

    I just hope a bunch of these houses that go up in flames belong to tree huggers


    Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

    The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

    Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i.e., intermarry, with all those non-whites.

    What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

    How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

    And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

    But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

  13. Voting for those that allow HIV to be spread knowingly without being criminally responsible..Karma maybe?

  14. Lazlo Toth says:

    Wow. Insanity from both sides here.

    I am a Trump voter who still would vote for him. This is a tragedy and I don’t wish this type of bad for anyone. Plus, it is a beautiful area. I hope this ends quickly and the victims – rich or poor – recover well. This is the kind of thing that used to unite us all and it is distressing to see the pot shots from each side at the other here.