Getty Fire

Many Topanga residents found themselves within the evacuation warning zone for the Getty Fire. On October 29, when the Messenger Mountain News went to press, the fire was just five percent contained and the risk of flare-ups still very much a concern in the community. Map courtesy of LAFD

The Getty Fire broke out near the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass during the early hours of the morning on October 28 and rapidly spread in the Santa Monica Monica Mountains west of the freeway, burning homes, forcing evacuations, and setting Topanga Canyon on edge, as residents waited to learn if the disaster was headed their way. 

As of Tuesday, October 29, when the Messenger Mountain News went to press, the fire had grown to 656 acres before the winds dropped. With five percent containment, 7,091 homes had been evacuated, eight were destroyed and six damaged. As of October 29, more than 1100 regional fire fighters were assigned to the incident.

All Topanga residents east of Topanga Canyon Blvd. remained in the Evacuation Preparedness Zone on the 29th, with the Mandatory Evacuation Zone extending from the 405 to Sunset Blvd. Ground crews and aircraft continued to work through the day to extend containment.

“Firefighters continue to take advantage of favorable weather conditions into the day today, working with aircraft to extinguish any flare ups and mop up hot spots,” a Los Angeles Fire Department press release states. “Narrow canyon roads and steep terrain pose a challenge for hand crews working the fire line. Current objectives include protecting all structures and building further containment lines around the fire before another forecasted Santa Ana Wind event begins.” 

The change in weather facilitated the reopening of Topanga Canyon Blvd., which was closed to through traffic on October 28. On the 405, off-ramps remained closed in the fire zone, but all lanes were reopened for commuters. Officials caution that could change rapidly with the return of the winds.

On October 29, Scott Ferguson of the Topanga Coalition for Emergency Preparedness (TCEP), reported the TCEP volunteers “were all over this fire just moments after it broke out at 1:30-ish a.m. and worked continuously to gather and verify information from official channels and push out on the web, Hotline, Twitter and occasionally Facebook for almost 12 hours straight before anyone took the slightest break.”

At various times up to 10 volunteers were actively engaged. “We’ve been doing this for over a quarter century, and over that time TCEP has built trusted relationships with County agencies which gives us an advantage in gathering accurate information,” Ferguson said. “While we always try to get information out as quickly as possible, we don’t worry about being first with updates but we always strive to be correct with what we post. We will remain on alert for the next few days at least.”

 

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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