A major commuter artery in Los Angeles closed Wednesday morning and some of the city’s wealthiest estates, including Rupert Murdoch’s Moraga vineyard, were ordered evacuated as Southern California firefighters battled several wind-fanned wildfires.
Stretches of Interstate 405 were shut and neighborhoods near the freeway and Mulholland Drive, including parts of Bel-Air, were being evacuated, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Residents were warned by text messages.
The 405 connects the San Fernando Valley to Santa Monica and other major job centers on the west side of Los Angeles. Flames were visible from the road, according to photos posted on social media. About 220 firefighters are on the scene of what is being called the Skirball fire, due to its proximity to the Skirball Cultural Center, a Jewish museum and events space.
A series of fires stretching from Ventura, California, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, to some of the city’s far-flung suburbs prompted road closures and evacuations. More than 150 structures were reported destroyed near Ventura on Tuesday. Dozens of schools in Ventura and Los Angeles counties were closed.
The Getty Center, a prominent museum nearby, was closed to the public Tuesday and Wednesday to protect the collection from smoke damage, according to the center’s website.
Murdoch’s Moraga Estate, where the media mogul operates a winery and lives with wife Jerry Hall in a 7,500-square-foot house, is in the evacuation zone. No one answered the phone at the estate early Wednesday, and officials at Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc. didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Murdoch acquired the property in 2013 for $28.8 million.
The University of California at Los Angeles is located adjacent of the evacuated area. The school said it’s closely monitoring the situation.
The fires also cut the value of a major power provider in the area. Shares of Edison International resumed declines on Wednesday, a day after their biggest slump in 15 years wiped out more than $3 billion in market value.
President Donald Trump, who owns a home in Beverly Hills, tweeted that his thoughts and prayers were with Californians affected by the fires and thanked emergency personnel for their work.