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The Real Deal Los Angeles

Raging California fires move into LA

Officials sent emergency alert to all of Los Angeles County late Wednesday warning of extreme danger

Southern California wildfires (Credit: Getty Images)

The wildfire that has been devastating California moved into the heart of Los Angeles on Wednesday, striking near city icons including the Getty Museum and the UCLA campus.

The conflagration, dubbed the Skirball Fire, burned up to the edge of the 405, the busiest highway in the country, and northbound lanes were closed for much of Wednesday, according to the New York Times.

Officials sent an emergency alert out to all of Los Angeles County on Wednesday night warning that they were in “extreme fire danger,” and the blazes have forced the evacuations of almost 200,000 people in the Los Angeles and Ventura areas.

The fire in Los Angeles’ Bel Air neighborhood had consumed about 475 acres as of Wednesday night and multiple buildings, including the estate of media mogul and Realtor.com owner Rupert Murdoch. Even small lots in Bel Air are valued over $1 million.

Jeff Hyland, president of brokerage Hilton & Hyland, told the Times that one of his listings, a $17 million mansion, is in the evacuation zone.

Overall, fires in the Los Angeles and Ventura areas have destroyed more than 300 buildings and forced the closings of the 101 freeway and hundreds of schools.

Although strong winds normally drive fuel fires in Southern California in the late fall and winter, there is an unusually large amount of dry vegetation this year, allowing the fires to become larger and more damaging.

The season normally peaks in October, but officials have said climate change may be causing more fires to break out later in the year. [NYT] – Eddie Small