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Fast-moving Sepulveda Pass fire prompts voluntary evacuations [map]

September 14, 2012 |  5:09 pm
PHOTOS: Fire in Sepulveda Pass threatens homes, Getty Center

A fast-moving 10-acre fire was whipping its way uphill east of the Sepulveda Pass, causing staff at the Getty Center to voluntarily evacuate.

The brush fire rapidly spread on one of the hottest days of the year in Los Angeles, where temperatures at the fire were at 102 degrees and the air was dry, at 9% relative humidity.

Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jamie Moore said more than 100 firefighters were battling the blaze, which was moving from the base of the 405 Freeway up a mountain toward Moraga Drive, where homes are located on a cul-de-sac in the hills of Bel-Air. Smoke could be seen as far as Santa Monica.

PHOTOS: Fire in Sepulveda Pass threatens homes, Getty Center

Authorities said there is no evidence of arson at this stage and the cause remains undetermined.

The Getty Center, located south of the fire, was closed, and synagogue leaders evacuated eight Torahs from Leo Baeck Temple at the base of the burning ridge on Sepulveda Boulevard. But firefighters appeared confident that they would be able to keep the fire from getting to homes, noting that the winds were mild, at 7 mph to 9 mph.

As a a precaution, people in the area were leaving of their own accord, including students and staff at Mount St. Mary's College near the Getty Center. 

City authorities have not called for evacuations, but cautioned people to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.

“We have a pretty good handle on the fire,” Moore said, adding that it is heading over a ridge and creating hot spots.

"This is not a wind-driven fire, it is topography fire,” Moore said.

Leo Baeck Temple, which is at the base of the ridge that is burning, had staff was standing by to see if the fire would be contained in time to hold Friday Shabbat services, said Abigail Spiegel, executive director.

"We are waiting to hear," she said.

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-- Andrew Blankstein, Lisa Girion, Richard Winton and Rong-Gong Lin II

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