VIDEO: Fire Hits the 405 Freeway in the Heart of Los Angeles, Heartbreaking Loses

VIDEO: Fire Hits the 405 Freeway in the Heart of Los Angeles, Heartbreaking Loses

SANTA MONICA, California — A new fire broke out early Wednesday morning near the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles, shutting down the busiest road in the United States during the early commute.

Those already on the 405 shared photos and videos of the blaze on social media. Los Angeles fire authorities closed down the freeway shortly thereafter, disrupting the morning commute for hundreds of thousands of people traveling between Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley.

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AN inferno has engulfed the Los Angeles region, forcing more than 200,000 people to evacuate and threatening thousands of homes, including the luxe Bel-Air neighborhood dotted with mansions.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says at least four and possibly six homes have been destroyed by a wildfire in the city’s Bel Air area.

The flames have swallowed some 80,000 acres (32,000 hectares) in just over a day since the “Thomas” fire, currently the state’s largest, broke out, leaving at least one dead in an area about 45 minutes from downtown LA.

High winds caused another wave of wildfires to erupt overnight, including one in Los Angeles’ affluent Bel-Air neighborhood.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti was forced to declare a state of emergency and said more than 230,000 people had evacuated Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Amid the charred landscape of Little Tujunga Canyon Road in Sylmar on Wednesday stood the remains of Rancho Padilla and the carcasses of nearly 30 horses who died in the fast-moving Creek fire.

The Padilla family was there Wednesday morning, surveying the smoldering ranch that their father built more than 20 years ago. They somberly counted up the dead horses, whose charred bodies lined dozens of stalls.

The family, who lives up the hill from the ranch, had awakened Tuesday to flames. One firetruck came and told them to leave.

“All I could think about was the horses, the horses, the horses. And they were like, ‘Get out, get out, get out,’ ” said Patricia Padilla, whose family owns the ranch. “The structures can get rebuilt, but the lives of the horses can’t. … That’s my biggest heartbreak.”

The ranch, which boards horses, had more than 60 housed there, said Virginia Padilla, Patricia’s older sister. They put the count of dead horses at 29.

The family was familiar with each owner and would be calling them throughout the day to deliver the grim news and offer condolences.

2ND UPDATE, 1:36 PM: Los Angeles Mayor Erik Garcetti has declared a local State of Emergency for the Skirball Fire, which is now passing 150 acres since starting early this morning in the Sepulveda Pass along the 405 Freeway, resulting in evacuations of Bel-Air and other neighborhoods near the Getty Center.

VIDEO: Fire Hits the 405 Freeway in the Heart of Los Angeles, Heartbreaking Loses

The city also just reopened northbound lanes of the 405, which had been closed since the fire broke out in the early-morning hours. Southbound lanes were reopened earlier today.

Thousands flee massive Southern California wildfire

The emergency order, which directs relevant City departments to take all necessary steps to protect life and property in the area affected by the fires, and that state and federal assistance be provided “quickly,” is the second in two days for the city. The first was for the Creek Fire in Sylmar and Sunland-Tujunga in northern Los Angeles, which has scorched more than 11,000 acres since starting yesterday morning.

The L.A. Fire Department said mandatory evacuations are now in effect for the area east of the 405, Mulholland Drive to the north, Sunset Boulevard to the south, and Roscomare Road to the east. Fire officials at the presser just now referenced the 1961 Bel-Air fire as having a similar “footprint”; that two-day brush fire destroyed nearly 500 homes in the Bel-Air-Brentwood area, though there were no fatalities.

Mary Greeley News