Getty Center, college evacuates due to L.A. fire

LOS ANGELES — Visitors to the Getty Center art complex, which houses works by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh, were evacuated as a fire burned in thick brush on the steep slopes of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The fire was 90 percent contained late Wednesday after erupting early in the afternoon and quickly growing to 80 acres above parking facilities for the Getty.

The fire eventually moved eastward, away from the museum, officials said.

The museum’s ventilation systems were shut down to prevent smoke from damaging the priceless artwork, Getty Center spokesman Ron Hartwig said.

“The Getty Center was built with a great deal of safeguard,” he said. “You can never be overly confident, but we’re certainly prepared to handle fires in this area.”

The Getty has a collection ranging from European paintings to illuminated manuscripts and photographs.

About 350 firefighters worked on rugged slopes and seven helicopters pounded flames with water from nearby Stone Canyon Reservoir.

By the time the helicopters were grounded for darkness, the blaze was mostly under control, and hand crews were looking for lingering hot spots.

Fire Chief Douglas Barry said the blaze began about three-quarters of a mile from the Getty and moved away to the east as winds blew out of the west. Cool, humid conditions after dark helped firefighters.

“We feel very confident we’ll have this fire under control very shortly,” Barry said.

Fire Department spokesman Lauren deRosier said equipment used by a brush clearance crew sparked the fire.

About 800 employees and 1,600 visitors to the J. Paul Getty Museum and other parts of the hilltop complex were shuttled to the center’s south building as a precaution, Hartwig said.

A tram took people down the hill to parking lots so they could drive out the south gate, and the center was closed for the rest of the day, he said.

Nearby to the north, Mount St. Mary’s College was evacuated as a precaution even though the fire was a mile away and a canyon lay between it and the school, spokeswoman Sarah Scopio said.

College was not in session but 100 staff members evacuated along with about 200 other people attending a conference, Scopio said. The school used campus shuttles to take them out until the all-clear was given, she said.

City Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said residents of the area were urged to leave, but no homes were threatened.

The Getty and Mount St. Mary’s are prominent landmarks on the rugged mountains above Los Angeles’ tony western neighborhoods.

A 100-acre blaze in the same area in October burned up to the backyard patios of multimillion-dollar homes before it was extinguished.

The Getty Center opened in 1997 on ridges above Interstate 405, which runs through the Sepulveda Pass. It is known for its gardens, conservation and research work and its museum, which holds a number of famous works, including Van Gogh’s “Irises.”

Mount St. Mary’s campus was damaged by the disastrous Bel Air-Brentwood wildfire of November 1961, which destroyed 484 homes and 21 other buildings.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers speaks to the crowd during an opening ceremony at the new PAE2 Amazon Fulfillment Center on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Snohomish County executive pitches $1.66B budget

Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers announced his proposed budget Tuesday afternoon. Public comment is slated to begin Oct. 10.

Most Read