Wildfires continued raging across Southern California on Wednesday, with a new blaze that ignited in the early morning threatening one of the ritziest parts of Los Angeles. "There will be no ability to fight fire in these kinds of winds".
"As expected winds have increased dramatically", Cal Fire, the agency responsible for fire protection in the state, said on Twitter. It's times like these when you might feel like you want to lend a helping hand, but are not quite sure what to do.
Dozens of schools also were closed in neighboring Ventura County, where the largest of the area blazes, the Thomas Fire, has charred more than 96,000 acres (38,850 hectares).
The high Santa Ana winds are predicted to last through the week, and are blowing embers across the landscape in all directions.
The area battled gridlocked traffic as residents fled ash and smoke that churned over the smoldering hillside in the second-largest USA city.
As neighborhoods turned into scenes of vast ruin and freeways closed down, California got a frightening replay of the October infernos in Wine Country that killed 44 people, destroyed 8,900 structures and, like the Thomas Fire, were driven by nighttime windstorms that blasted flames from more rugged areas into communities built along the edge of the wildland.
The warning, which indicates extreme fire danger because of gusty winds and low humidity, will be in effect through Saturday in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, where fires have scorched more than 80,000 acres and destroyed many homes.
In Bel-Air, that's exactly what they did.
"They told even us to leave", one of the officers said.
The singer Lionel Richie cancelled a concert to help his ex-wife flee the area, while comedian Chelsea Handler and designer Adrienne Maloof were among celebrities tweeting that they had to evacuate.
Among those evacuated was model Chrissy Teigen, wife of singer John Legend. "This just shows us that there is no fire season anymore".
"We are fine and we will be fine. thinking of everyone else affected and continuing my lifelong intense love of firefighters", she added.
Little flame was visible by late Tuesday, but Wednesday, fire exploded on the steep slopes of Sepulveda Pass, closing a section of heavily traveled Interstate 405 and destroying four homes. At 7:30am, authorities ordered residents living south of Mulholland Drive, east of the 405, north of Sunset Boulevard, and west of Roscomare Road to evacuate their homes, RT reported.
The nearby Getty Centre museum shut down for the day to protect its art collection from smoke damage.
Officials closed US 101 for more than a dozen miles along the coast, cutting off a major route between Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for several hours as fire charred heavy brush along lanes.
According to ABC 7 News Los Angeles, the Salvation Army's Ventura chapter is accepting donations of food and water to be distributed at the county's fairgrounds, which is where many evacuees of the fires are now being housed.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it had released funds for relief services.