California fires: 'Firefighters taking a beating' as Santa Ana winds rage

Firefighters battle the Creek Fire on Dec. 5 2017

The Skirball Fire is burning in the exclusive Bel Air community, where multimillion-dollar houses give the rich and famous sweeping views. Video footage of the flames can be seen here, as drivers captured the footage from their vehicles on the 405 near the affluent neighborhood of the City of Dreams, Bel-Air.

Los Angeles commuters had one hell of a drive to work Wednesday morning as a wildfire swept through the Bel-Air district, forcing the closure of at least one stretch of a major freeway.

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

The area battled gridlocked heavy traffic as ash and smoke churned over the smoldering hillside. Fire crews made enough progress against large fires around Los Angeles to lift most evacuation orders.

Driven by winds above 35 miles per hour (56 kph), Thursday's fire wiped out rows of trailer homes in the retirement community and left behind charred and mangled metal where they had stood.

"But these are also days that show the resilience of our city", Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, thanking firefighters from Los Angeles and other agencies and all city personnel.

Meanwhile, the Rye Fire grew 2,000 acres overnight to 7,000 acres and spread from Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County, to the edge of Ventura County.

The so-called Skirball fire forced officials to close down part of Interstate 405 - a key north-south artery and one of the busiest freeways in the country - for a time.

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TRT World's Kerry Alexandra has this report.

Forecasters predicted that winds could cause further spreading, threatening more upscale homes and the acclaimed Getty Center museum.

Among those whose homes were destroyed was Tom Lanski, a captain with the Ventura County Fire Department. A full list of closed schools was available at www.lausd.net.

The prestigious University of California, Los Angeles is near the same area and ended up evacuating, after students began the day wearing masks.

The fire started from an unknown cause next to State Highway 76 and blew across six lanes to the other side.

Authorities warned that winds will likely remain strong until Friday.

"Honestly, the firefighters are taking a beating, but we have to acknowledge the residents because they're taking a beating, too, but they're cooperating with our orders", said Thomas Kruschke, spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency over the area Tuesday, announcing: "This fire is very unsafe and spreading rapidly".

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