While campus is safe, traffic continues to prevent many from reaching UCLA. Classes beginning on or after noon are canceled. Students should check with instructors about making up class time or work. As conditions change, we will have more this afternoon. https://t.co/tV2Twtirn2
Los Angeles Police Department spokesman Josh Rubenstein said drivers seeking alternate routes between the San Fernando Valley and the Westside are getting stuck in traffic on winding, hilly streets in the fire area, which could pose a danger to themselves and to firefighters.
“It’s getting all jammed up in there,” he said. “They’re deep into the evacuation area.”
He urged drivers to stay away from the area bounded by the 405 Freeway, Sunset Boulevard, Mulholland Drive and Roscomare Road, where a mandatory evacuation order has been in place since Wednesday morning.
#SkirballFire update: As we evacuate our Chalon Campus due to ongoing power outages, we are making shuttles available for students, faculty and staff without vehicles. For those who are driving off campus, please do so safely and pay attention for road closures and detours. 2/2
Jackson Rogow, 24, woke up at 6 a.m. to the smell of smoke and the wail of sirens. He ran outside in his boxer shorts, and saw his neighbors on Bellagio Road standing in the street and packing their cars. The moon was blood red.
He turned on the news, and saw aerial footage of his eight-unit apartment building from a helicopter monitoring the Skirball fire. He turned to his girlfriend and said, “We should pack.”
By 7 a.m., fire trucks were racing up and down the street, apparently trying to get as close to the fire as possible, Rogow said. He waved to one truck and shouted, “Should I leave?” A firefighter gave him a thumbs-up, he said, but he wasn’t sure what that meant.
The Skirball fire burning in Bel-Air destroyed at least four, and possibly six, houses on Casiano Road and Moraga Drive on Wednesday, officials said.
More than 350 firefighters, 52 engines and six fixed-wing aircraft are battling the blaze from the north, west and east. The crews will have relatively cool temperatures in the 50s and 60s, but also low humidity and winds stronger than 25 miles per hour.
“Our greatest threat is — and will always continue to be — the wind,” Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said.
Fire officials said Wednesday that the area they call Branch 4 — which includes the city of Ventura — is their highest priority, due to the “tremendous volume of fire” there.
If the wind turns, the area they’ve dubbed Branch 1, which includes Ojai, will be their priority. Firefighters are putting together a plan to protect Ojai and expressed concern that winds could push the flames toward the city.
They reiterated a message spread Wednesday morning: The key is to put out even small bushes on fire along roads and extinguish the tiniest embers on the way to bigger blazes because “that’s how it’s spreading from house to house.”
The sight of firetrucks rolling past Ojai boutiques and wine-tasting rooms under a heavy pall of smoke made it impossible for officials to give a satisfying response to the big question on everyone’s minds Wednesday morning: Is the town going to burn down?
“I’ve been telling people, ‘If you can get your loved ones and valuables to a safe place, you should,’” said Ojai City Manager Steve McClary. “That’s a tough answer to give. I wish I could be more specific. But this is no time for false promises.”
Eastern portions of the mountain community of about 20,000 were under mandatory evacuation orders. Downtown residents and shop owners, though, faced voluntary evacuation, and worried that a shift in the wind could drive wildfires on surrounding ridgelines farther south and into town.