By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
A spate of Southern California wildfires that have claimed homes and challenged firefighters for more than a week now never directly reached Pacific Palisades, but heavy winds and ash-filled air carried their share of consequences for the town.
At press-time early this week, the Creek and Rye fires, in Sylmar and Santa Clarita respectively, were nearly 100-percent contained. The nearby Skirball Fire in Bel-Air had reached 85-percent containment—LAFD confirmed Tuesday that it orginated in a nearby homeless encampment.
Palisadians were fortunate not to lose any homes in the trio of LA-area blazes, but life did not proceed as usual under smoke and ash-filled skies that triggered an air quality advisory from county agencies.
Residents could be seen donning masks in The Village on Tuesday, Dec. 5, the day that the Palisades’ air had the most visibly poor quality, and concerned parents drove to schools to pick up students early and usher them indoors.
Most local schools cancelled classes on Wednesday through Friday, Dec. 6-8.
That created significant disruptions at Palisades Charter High School, where students had just entered the final week of preparation for end-of-semester exams. Students had to do their studying from home, as final exams were still held as planned Dec. 12-14.
A slew of end-of-semester concerts, performances and sporting events had to either be cancelled or made voluntary as well.
The 405 Freeway closed through Sepulveda Canyon on the morning of Dec. 6 as the Skirball Fire grew near. The ensuing gridlock on streets and freeways throughout the Westside kept many commuters from work.
And the Getty Center and Villa instituted emergency closures to protect their prized collections from damage by the smoky air—though curators voiced confidence in the museums’ sophisticated air filtration systems and the Center’s hilltop isolation.
As fires grew more manageable, District 11 Councilmember Mike Bonin and other public officials thanked firefighters for all of their work in a grueling battle that developed multiple fronts.
Residents were told to report damage from any of the three LA fires by dialing 211 or visiting 211la.org/fire. The reports will help LA County determine the extent of the damage and the level of State and Federal assistance needed.
At press-time, the Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties was by far the most volatile blaze left standing in Southern California. Only 20-percent contained on Tuesday, it’s already Ventura County’s largest wildfire to date.
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