A fast-moving wildfire destroyed at least five multimillion-dollar homes in one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in Los Angeles and forced celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, to flee in the middle of the night.
Among neighbourhoods under evacuation orders was the posh area of Brentwood, a section on the west side of the city that became world famous in 1994 when former football star O.J. Simpson was accused of killing his ex-wife and a waiter there.
On the northern edge of Brentwood, a cluster of several multimillion-dollar homes were reduced to smouldering debris along a street festooned with Halloween decorations.
A fake bloody arm, part of the holiday decorations, had turned into melted plastic at one dwelling, and a giant skull replica remained in the front of another. Heavy smoke and ash filled the air as water-dropping helicopters and plane tankers buzzed overhead.
Actor and former California governor Schwarzenegger also said he was among the thousands who had to evacuate overnight.
“If you are in an evacuation zone, don’t screw around. Get out,” Schwarzenegger wrote on Twitter.
A red-carpet premiere for Schwarzenegger’s new movie, Terminator: Dark Fate, that had been scheduled for Monday night was cancelled due to fires in the area.
The premiere had been scheduled to take place in Hollywood, several miles from the fire zone. Food intended for the premiere party was being donated to local American Red Cross shelters that were housing fire evacuees, Paramount Pictures said.
Agents of SHIELD actor Clark Gregg and Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter also said on Twitter that they had been forced to leave their homes.
Others who own homes in the evacuation zone include Senator Kamala Harris, a Democrat running for president, who was not home at the time, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger and rapper and producer Dr Dre.
The flames that roared up a steep hillside near the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles’ Brentwood section illustrated the danger the state faces as high winds batter both ends of California and threaten to turn any spark into a devastating inferno.
The Getty Fire broke out as California has been dealing with a number of wildfires that have ignited throughout the state in the last week, forcing massive evacuations and power cuts.California’s governor declared a statewide emergency on Sunday as a wind-driven fire in the Sonoma wine region, north of San Francisco, spread out of control, forcing tens of thousands to flee.
The Kincade Fire, which erupted last Wednesday and is the largest so far this year, had spread to more than 66,000 acres by Monday morning and was only five per cent contained.
In a bid to reduce the risk of fire, California’s largest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric Co, has been turning off power to hundreds of thousands of customers across northern and central California.
PG&E has come under intense scrutiny after it emerged that one of its transmission lines may have played a role in the Kincade Fire.
The same type of line was responsible for California’s deadliest-ever wildfire – last year’s Camp Fire, which killed 86 people.
PG&E, which filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year, has been blamed for several other fires in the state in recent years.