As firefighters have been having a tough time trying to douse the wildfires in the state of California in the United States, a new blaze has now erupted in the posh Bel-Air neighbourhood of Los Angeles. The blaze is said to be close to the UCLA campus and the iconic Getty Museum.
The fire, which is known as Skirball Fire, has charred the edges of the 405 freeway, which is the country's busiest highway and commuters could be seen driving through ash rising in the air, reported the New York Times. Due to this, the authorities have closed down numerous lanes on the highway.
The wildfire has burnt down at least six houses in the neighbourhood and has also engulfed a building on a vineyard owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The vineyard has now been evacuated and firemen are said to be on the site to douse the flames.
Speaking of his vineyard, Murdoch tweeted: "We believe the winery and house are still intact. We are monitoring the situation as closely as we can and are grateful to the efforts of all the first responders."
Until now, about 475 acres of land has been scorched in the neighbourhood. "We are expecting some extreme wind behavior this evening," Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters, according to Reuters. Authorities have also ordered hundreds of residents to evacuate as dousing these flames is going to take a while.
Talking about how serious the fire is, Bel Air resident Lori Arkin told NBC News that the sky has been a bright orange since the fire broke out. "My son went out, came in, and said, 'Mom, you gotta see this,'" she told the site. "The sky was bright orange." The family then immediately packed up a few things and is ready to leave if the need arises. "You look from room to room, you see what makes your house a home, and you realize it's the people and the animals," she said.
The Skirball Fire is the fifth blaze in the region, which is already burning under the impact on Thomas, Creek, Rye, and Little Mountain. Thomas Fire erupted in the Ventura County, 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles, on Monday, December 4, and burnt down numerous houses. The region's fire department has warned residents, especially in Ventura and Ojai, that the fire may get worse due to the powerful Santa Ana winds that carry hot and dry air. The fire, until now, has burnt down 90,000 acres of land and thousands of people have been evacuated. Authorities have been going door-to-door asking people to move to safer location as they believe that the fire is likely to rage until Thursday or Friday.
"We urge you, you must abide by these evacuation notices," Ventura County Sheriff Jeff Dean said at a press conference on Monday. "We saw the disasters and the losses that happened up north in Sonoma, and this is a fast, very dangerous moving fire."
Even though the cause of the sudden blaze isn't known, California fire officials believe that lack of rain could be one of the reasons. "This year however no rain came in September, October and November in Southern California. So we have incredibly desiccated dry fuels," the Washington Post quoted Tim Chavez as saying.