Fire closures slow commuters even more on the Westside
Commuters sitting in Westside traffic Friday evening found their drives home even more frustrating than usual, slowed by road closures in response to the 65-acre brush fire burning in the Sepulveda Pass.
At the height of rush hour, the California Highway Patrol closed the northbound Getty Center off-ramp of the 405 Freeway as well as Sepulveda Boulevard between Moraga Drive and the Getty Center as emergency crews scrambled to fight the fire burning east of the freeway.
The blaze was 40% contained at 7 p.m., officials said. Crews expect to have the fire under control Saturday morning.
Traffic was so heavy along Sunset Boulevard that Norma Samayoa, 58, thought President Obama was visiting Los Angeles again. She was in a red van, heading to pick up dry cleaning for her boss when she got stuck at Granville Avenue near the Archer School for Girls.
Samayoa said she was used to seeing heavy traffic on the street during weekends because of the construction on the 405, but was not expecting the hourlong delay on a weekday. Samayoa said she was "bored and tired."
"And worse, I don't have air conditioning." she said.
Olivette Dantignac, 14, had been waiting for about two hours for her mother and sister to pick her up at the Westwood Recreation Center, where she had gone swimming after school. The center is just south of Wilshire Boulevard on Sepulveda, where traffic had slowed to a crawl.
The teenager passed the time by sitting, texting her friend, walking around and skateboarding.
"They can't get anywhere with the traffic,” she said. “They are just stuck. I've been waiting like two hours."
About 7 p.m., traffic was still sluggish, but returning to what drivers considered a normal level of congestion for a Friday evening.
“It reminds me of a normal Friday. It's just a normal slow," said Erik Rehder, who stopped at a 76 gas station at Sepulveda and Moraga as he drove home to Studio City.
-- Ruben Vives, Matt Stevens, Andrew Khouri and Laura J. Nelson
Photo: Ground crews work in 100-plus degree heat to extinguish Sepulveda Pass fire. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times