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Evacuation orders issued for nearly 200k as Los Angeles fires rage

Evacuation orders issued for nearly 200k as Los Angeles fires rage
Authorities in Los Angeles, California have ordered evacuations of nearly 200,000 residents as the rampaging Skirball Fire began to consume homes, and for a short while, shut down part of Interstate 405, one of the busiest freeways in the US.

The fast-moving brush fire started around 5am local time on Wednesday near the Getty Center. 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.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Skirball Fire has led to the evacuations of 700 homes, one apartment building and an elementary school in the city’s Sepulveda Pass. The brush fire has charred 475 acres and is 5 percent contained.The number of people affected has reached 46,000. More than 300 personnel from the Los Angeles Fire Department are on the scene and are being supported by the Los Angeles County Fire Department, LAPD and the Angeles National Forest and CalFire, officials said during a Wednesday afternoon news conference.

Four structures have been destroyed, and 11 damaged, all of which were residential, authorities told reporters. There have been no reported injuries.

The National Weather Service has extended a Red Flag Warning across much of the Southern California region through Saturday.

Santa Ana winds, which have exacerbated the fire, will be returning Wednesday night and last through Saturday.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a local State of Emergency Wednesday because of the Skirball Fire. The blaze has now grown to 150 acres. The northbound and southbound lanes of the 405 Freeway, which had previously been shut, have been reopened, KCBS reported.

Residents living west of I-405 should brace for evacuations, in case flames jump the freeway, officials said earlier on Wednseday. 

High winds reaching 80 mph (129 km/h) are are expected to exacerbate the fires.

Authorities have opened 16 evacuation centers throughout the Los Angeles area.

Commuters have uploaded videos and photos showing apocalyptic scenes as the fire rages next to the 405.

“Not the typical morning commute…” a Los Angeles investment banker commented.

“Today was scariest morning commute of my life,” tweeted musician Rick Patrick. “The scariest part was the heat hitting my car. It felt like driving into the sun.”

The Thomas, Creek and Rye Fires continue to wreaking havoc in Southern California, as authorities and firefighters scramble to contain the rapidly moving blazes.

The Thomas Fire, which started at around 6:30pm Monday, is considered a wildfire, and was the first of the three to ignite. Located 60 miles (97km) northwest of Los Angeles in Ventura County, that fire spread from 500 acres Monday night to 50,000 acres the following morning.

The Creek Fire was the second blaze to erupt. The wildfire started at 4am Tuesday and rapidly spread in the foothills of the Angeles National Forest, located above the neighborhood of Sylmar in the San Fernando Valley.

It has now burned through 11,377 acres, and is five percent contained, Garcetti said in a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

The Creek Fire has destroyed 11 homes and injured two firefighters, KTLA reported.

A fast-moving two-alarm brush fire, dubbed the Rye Fire, led to the closure of a portion of the Interstate 5 highway. The fire is burning in Santa Clarita, about 30 miles (48km) north of Los Angeles, according to KABC.