Brush fire burns near L.A.'s Getty Center

October 23, 2008 5:44:02 AM PDT
A wildfire burned through grass and brush early Thursday a few miles from the Getty Center museum, forcing the closure of the nearby San Diego Freeway, authorities said. The fire started at about 12:50 a.m. and had burned at least 150 acres west of the freeway three hours later, fire spokesman Brian Humphrey said. He said the fire was two miles from the hilltop Getty Center and more than a mile from the nearest homes.

The blaze was moving south toward the Getty Center and Mount St. Mary's College, but both were "well-protected by a large number of firefighters," Humphrey said.

No structures had burned and no one was injured, Humphrey said. All lanes of the San Diego Freeway were shut down in both directions through the Sepulveda Pass, the California Highway Patrol said, threatening a huge traffic mess as rush hour approached.

About 350 firefighters helped by eight water-dropping helicopters were taking on the blaze, Humphrey said.

Despite its quick growth, the hot, dry winds that brought the fire's initial surge were diminishing, very little open flame was visible from television news helicopters and firefighters were gaining ground.

"We're making significant progress," Humphrey said. The winds, blowing only about 5 mph, were expected to pick up after dawn.

Authorities told residents in the Brentwood area they may need to evacuate, and centers were set up at the American Jewish University and the Veteran's Administration Hospital in Westwood for any sick or elderly people who needed to evacuate.

Some residents loaded computers and collectibles into cars and headed out of the exclusive canyon section of Brentwood .

"This is really surreal," Mort Overlander told KTLA-TV as he fled his home. "It's like out of a movie or something. Especially coming down the hill, it's just unbelievable."

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