LOCAL CALIFORNIA

Multiple fires are raging in Southern California. A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have destroyed hundreds of structures, forced thousands to flee and smothered the region with smoke in what officials predicted would be a pitched battle for days.

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Bel-Air fire

Residents near the Skirball fire hope winds abate, but still prepare to leave: 'When you're ready, you're not scared'

Firefighter Bobby D'Amico looks out over the Getty Center while monitoring the scene over Bel-Air. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighter Bobby D'Amico looks out over the Getty Center while monitoring the scene over Bel-Air. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Residents west of the 405 Freeway who live near the Sepulveda Pass on Chalon Road and North Bundy Drive were cautiously optimistic Thursday morning about whether the fire would jump the freeway.

Still, many had prepared to evacuate. As a gust of wind blew dried leaves into the air, Bob Greer, 81, opened the trunk of his white Toyota.

Suitcases, photographs, documents and medication peeked out. “The one thing you cannot replace are photographs,” he said.

Greer has been living in his modest white home in Brentwood for 46 years with his wife, Ursula. They both served in the U.S. Air Force. Bob Greer retired 15 years ago.

“I’m ready to go in a minute if we need to evacuate,” he said. “When you’re ready, you’re not scared.”

His next door neighbor, Ruben Anton, has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years and doesn’t remember the last time fires have gotten this close. He pointed in front of him and behind his house. Thick patches of dried, brown brush sat on the hill directly behind his light-blue home. In front of his house and across the street, more brush lay atop the hillside. He’s worried.

Anton evacuated yesterday and spent the night at his friend’s house. He returned this morning. His car, filled with his clothes and his daughter’s paintings, is parked in his garage. “I don’t plan to evacuate unless authorities tell me,” he said. “I’m going to throw water on my roof.”

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