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Sepulveda Pass fire burns more than 80 acres; Getty, college evacuated [Updated]

July 8, 2009 |  4:22 pm

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[Updated 5:20 p.m.:Authorities say a stubborn brush fire near the Getty Center is 20% contained, while foggy and humid conditions are expected to help keep the fire in check this evening.] 

A stubborn brush fire continued to burn this afternoon in the Sepulveda Pass, forcing the evacuation of the Getty Center and Mount St. Mary's College and jamming traffic on the 405 Freeway.

More photos The fire was reported at 12:44 p.m and was estimated to have burned about 80 acres of dense brush in a remote section of the Santa Monica Mountains. Fire officials said it is not threatening structures at this time but continues to burn out of control.

The fire broke out in the 1200 block of Getty Center Drive, said spokesman Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department. He said no injuries have been reported and no structures are being threatened.

 Inside the museum, Chuck Bunnell, a visitor at the Getty, said in a phone interview that he was in the southern tower when he learned of the fire.

“They made us stand outside in the front entrance of the building,” said Bunnell, adding that they were given bottles of water and umbrellas.

Driving past the fire on the northbound 405 Freeway, Bunnell watched helicopters dive into the hillside and drop water.

“The helicopters are doing some great dives,” he said.

At Mount St. Mary's, no classes were in session, but 200 people renting out facilities there are being removed. About 100 staffers were also taken out.

More than 200 firefighters were battling the blaze.

--Ruben Vives

Photo: (Top) A helicopter drops water on the brush fire in the Sepulveda Pass just north of the Getty Center. (Bottom) A water dropping helicopter flies over the 405 freeway as northbound traffic was clogged due to the fire. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) >> More photos