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A fast-spreading wildfire shut down Interstate 405, a major highway that runs through Los Angeles, on Wednesday morning, according to the Los Angeles Times. The flames were creeping toward the Getty Center, home to the Getty Museum and lots of priceless art.
Cars were backed up on the interstate as people evacuated, and the heat from the wind-whipped flames, according to reports, was hot enough to warm car windows on the freeway.
Besides the danger to L.A. residents, the Getty Center, right across the freeway from the wildfire, is at risk of losing centuries’ worth of irreplaceable artworks. Everything from early 20th century photographs to medieval manuscripts could be lost if flames engulf the museum.
The fire had spread over a 50-acre area after igniting in Bel Air around 5 a.m. local time, fire officials told the Los Angeles Times. Propelled by 25 mph winds, the fire grew quickly. Houses near the top of the ridge near the 405 roadway started to burn, and firefighters urged residents to evacuate, although no injuries had been reported as of early Wednesday.
More than 220 firefighters were mobilized, aided by helicopters dropping water on the flames from above.
This is the third wildfire to threaten Los Angeles in just two days, amid the most destructive fire season in California’s history. The Thomas fire, which started Monday evening and continued to rage through Wednesday, forced tens of thousands of people across an 80-square-mile area to flee their homes and reached the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday. And Sylmar’s Creek fire, which started early Tuesday morning, has destroyed 30 structures in northeastern Los Angeles so far.
In response to those fires, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told residents to be prepared to evacuate.
Cover image: Brandon Baker, center and Prescott McKenzie, right, take cover from the flying embers during a brush fire on December 5, 2017 in Ventura, California. (Photo by Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)