The four Southern California wildfires were joined by a fifth outside Los Angeles’s exclusive Bel Air neighborhood on Wednesday morning, as firefighters continued to struggle to put out the blazes.
Filming on the TV shows Westworld and SWAT were postponed, as producers recalled cast and crew from the surrounding countryside amid fears that they might be put at risk by the largely uncontrollable blazes.
Also postponed were aerial efforts to quench the inferno – which has destroyed 200 homes and caused 200,000 people to be evacuated – due to winds that put water-dropping helicopters and planes at risk.
Among the hundreds of buildings at risk of burning down is Johnny Cash’s former home in Casitas Springs, which as of Tuesday evening was surrounded by a literal ring of fire.
Much of the efforts have focused on the four blazes – in Ventura County, near Sylmar, in Santa Clarita, and in San Bernardino – that have already ravaged acres of land.
But a fifth, the Skirball Fire, began in the early hours of Wednesday morning near Bel Air KTLA reported. The area is now under mandatory evacuation.
All of this comes as FEMA confirms that it has freed up money to fight the first three fires, and President Donald Trump has sent his best wishes to those affected.
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There are now five fires blanketing swathes Southern California in smoke. Here, the sun is almost blotted out on the Ventura coastline on Wednesday morning, thanks to one of the longest-running fires
The latest fire – the Skirball Fire, which started near Interstate 405 – has led to mandatory evacuations in LA’s nearby posh Bel Air neighborhood. It is also worryingly close to the the UCLA and the Getty Arts Center complex
This photograph, taken at Six Flags Magic Mountain, shows smoke rising from the Rye Fire, one of the three earliest reported fires to occur in this bout of wildfires
Firefighters continue to battle the Southern California wildfires, which now number five. Here, the Creek Fire devours a hillside in the Shadow Hills neighborhood on December 5
People from the Shadow Hills neighborhood watch the Creek Fire burn. This is one of the first three reported fires; the fourth started on Tuesday afternoon in San Bernardino, and a fifth began early Wednesday morning near Los Angeles
A home in the Kagel Canyon area of Southern California’s San Fernando Valley is gutted by the Creek Fire. Firefighters have struggled to contain the blazes, which have largely run out of control
A farm is consumed by fire in Kagel Canyon. Production on two TV shows in the area – HBO’s sci-fi Western Westworld and CBS’s cop drama show SWAT (neither set pictured) – was paused on Wednesday over fears for the safety of their cast and crew
Horse stables are engulfed in Kagel Canyon. Strong winds in the area stopped firefighters from using water-dumping helicopters and planes overnight. It’s hoped that they will resume use on Wednesday
A firefighter stomps out small embers on a San Fernando Valley ranch. The wind whipped up the brush fire to dangerous speeds. In total the fires have destroyed 200 homes and caused the evacuation of more than 200,000 people
The Thomas Fire, Creek Fire and Rye Fire were joined on Tuesday by the San Bernardino Fire, and on Wednesday morning the Los Angeles brush fire – dubbed the Skirball Fire – was reported to emergency services
Donald Trump sent out this message offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ to those affected in California, after FEMA confirmed that it had approved assistance grants to deal with the first three fires
By the end of Tuesday, firefighters were tackling four blazes: the Thomas Fire in Venture County, the Creek Fire near Sylmar, the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita, and – as of Tuesday afternoon – a fourth in San Bernardino, east of LA.
The San Bernardino fire was being pushed through the area by gusty Santa Ana winds; it’s not known what sparked the fire, but two people were found badly burned near its point of origin close to a McDonald’s restaurant.
The following schools and school districts are closed due to the fires:
And at 4:52am Wednesday a fifth brush fire was reported on the east side of Los Angeles, along Interstate 405 in Sepulveda Pass, which carries the heavily traveled highway between LA and the San Fernando Valley.
Fire Department spokesman Margaret Stewart said the fire is burning uphill, driven by the lay of the land rather than the winds that have caused issues elsewhere.
It is now burning close to the plush Bel Air neighborhood, the UCLA and the Getty Arts Center complex. Winds were dying down early Wednesday, but are expected to pick up speeds in the evening – perhaps up to 50mph, causing fire to spread further, CNN reported.
She said 47 firefighters were on the scene in the early hours of Wednesday, setting up protection for homes at the top of the steep slopes, with two firefighting helicopters assigned to the area.
Those calmer winds stand in stark contrast to those faced by firefighters on Wednesday night, as strong winds and drafts from the fire made the use of water-dropping planes and helicopters too risky.
That meant the continued spread of the fires – one of which traveled 30 miles from inland to the Ocean – went uncontested in some areas.
Late Wednesday morning, Donald Trump retweeted a FEMA announcement that it was providing grants for the first three blazes – the Thomas, Rye and Creek fires.
He added: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in the path of California’s wildfires. I encourage everyone to heed the advice and orders of local and state officials.
‘THANK YOU to all First Responders for your incredible work!’
Firefighters walk through a horse ranch threatened by the Creek Fire in the San Fernando Valley A fifth blaze also started early Wednesday morning near Los Angeles
The Thomas Fire – one of the first three fires – approaches a church in Casitas Springs. Johnny Cash’s pre-fame home is located on the hillsides here, and was surrounded Tuesday night. It’s not clear whether it survived
The remains of the Hawaiian Apartment Complex continue to smolder. They were destroyed by the Thomas Fire, which was whipped up by brush fire
Firefighters try to knock down a blaze at the ruins of a home in Ventura. The Thomas Fire has left at least one person dead and destroyed homes and businesses
A resident hoses a burning palm tree during the Creek Fire in Sunland. Winds have pushed the fires across tens of thousands of acres; 60 miles away, the San Bernardino fire continues to rage. It’s believed to have started near a McDonald’s there
A strong wind blows embers around a Sunland resident hosing down his burning property. Two people were found near the San Bernardino fire’s origin point, both badly burned; it’s not clear if they caused that fire
A resident holds a leaking hose on his burning property in Sunland. These fires have been pushed by the Santa Ana winds, and follow on from other blazes that occurred in the state in October
Smoke from the Thomas, Rye and Creek fires can be seen here on Tuesday afternoon in this satellite image of Southern California from NASA
The fires also affected the shooting of HBO’s sci-fi Western series Westworld and CBS cop procedural show SWAT.
HBO said in a statement that Westworld was filming its second season in an area near two Los Angeles County fires on Tuesday but producers decided to shut down and avoid any danger to actors or crew members.
It said the show will resume filming when conditions there are safe.
Filming on SWAT was also suspended; it’s unclear when producers on that episode hope to get their cast and crew back to work.
Many shows shoot outdoor scenes in the outskirts north of the city, where blazes have choked the air with smoke and are threatening thousands of homes and buildings.
The Los Angeles Rams of the NFL, who hold workouts near the largest of Southern California’s fires, has also canceled Wednesday’s practice.
On Tuesday, 65 miles northwest of LA, the residents of a mobile home park in Casitas Springs were working together to keep it from burning.
They doused homes and fences with water and built mounds of dirt to keep the flames at bay.
‘It takes a village to protect a village,’ Alan Palacios, a resident of the neighborhood, told the LA Times, adding that without ‘spraying water over each-other’s roofs and helping others, we wouldn’t have saved our homes.’
Not far from the trailer park was the former home of Johnny Cash, who moved to Casitas Springs with his first wife and their child in 1961, when he was 29.
As of the end of Tuesday night, it was unclear whether the hilltop home had survived the inferno.
The Sunland property owner tries to stop a blaze from consuming a building on his property
Thick black and grey smoke has consumed the sky over Ventura County Tuesdaywhere more than 27,000 people have been forced to evacuate due to the fast-moving wildfire