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Getty Fire Shuts Down Local Schools, City Issues Smoke Warnings

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By Jorge Casuso

October 28, 2019 -- Santa Monica schools are closed, the City is issuing smoke warnings and a major stretch of the 405 has been closed as the Getty Fire burned out of control Friday.

The brush fire -- which broke out near the museum along the 405 shortly after 1:30 a.m. -- is fueled by dry Santa Ana winds expected to boost temperatures into the upper 70s and drop humidity into single digits.

Visible across the LA basin, the fire had spread by noon to more than 600 acres, threatening some 10,000 homes that have been ordered evacuated in Brentwood and other Westside communities, LA fire officials said.

At least five homes have been destroyed.

“This is a very dynamic fire that is moving in a westward direction driven by Santa Ana wind conditions,” the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) said Friday morning.

Some 600 firefighters were “actively engaged in structure protection throughout the evacuation zone.”

Santa Monica and Malibu public schools, as well as all child care locations, were closed Friday, District officials announced before the start of the school day.

Santa Monica College (SMC), St. Monica and Crossroads schools were also closed, as well as the local Boys & Girls Club.

Unhealthful air quality and the inability of teachers and staff to reach Malibu and Santa Monica due to Freeway closures prompted the school closings, said District Superintendent Ben Drati.

"The Getty Fire has blocked passage through the 405 freeway for many of our teachers and staff, and the evacuation orders are close to our district boundaries," Dratic wrote in a letter to parents.

"Air quality is unhealthful in many neighborhoods. Traffic is jammed. We are still under notice for Public Safety Power Shutoffs in Malibu, along with a red flag warning, meaning extreme fire danger.

"These conditions are what led us to our decision, in an abundance of caution," said Drati.

Parents were notified of the closures at 6:30 a.m. after District made the decision with "care and thoughtfulness," Drati said.

Schools are expected to be back in session on Tuesday, he said.

The 405 was fully closed from the 101 Freeway to Sunset Boulevard, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The northbound off ramps were closed at Sepulveda Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Moraga Drive, Getty Center Drive, Skirball Center Drive and Mulholland Drive.

For real-time information on local freeway and State Highway status and lane closures, visit Caltrans QuickMap or call 1-800-427-7623.

The City of Santa Monica website on Friday posted a "Wildfire Threat" warning advising those who see ash or smell smoke to stay indoors with their windows and doors closed.

Wildfire smoke can make anyone ill, but it especially affects those with asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Especially at risk are children, pregnant women and responders, according to the CDC.

"When wildfires burn near you, smoke can reach your community," the CDC website says. "Wildfire smoke is a mix of gases and fine particles from burning trees and plants, buildings, and other material."

Breathing in smoke can cause coughing, trouble breathing, wheezing, stinging eyes, a scratchy throat and a runny nose, according to the CDC.

It also can irritate the sinuses and cause headaches, tiredness, chest pain and a fast heartbeat.

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