A large fire that erupted early Monday in the foothills over Los Angeles sent residents throughout the western part of the city scurrying out of their homes in the middle of the night, including a certain former governor and action movie star as blazes across the Golden State have caused 200,000 to evacuate and over 2 million to be left without power.
The blaze, known as the Getty Fire, erupted before dawn Monday on the west side of Sepulveda Pass, where Interstate 405 passes through the Santa Monica Mountains, and roared up slopes into wealthy neighborhoods, threatening thousands of homes. As of 1 p.m. ET, the blaze had scorched up to 500 acres, damaged five structures, and threatened 10,000 additional structures that include residences and businesses, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said on Twitter his family evacuated "safely" at 3:30 a.m.
"If you are in an evacuation zone, don’t screw around. Get out," he tweeted. "Right now I am grateful for the best firefighters in the world, the true action heroes who charge into the danger to protect their fellow Californians."
Others in the area said they were woken around 3 a.m. to the sound of their doorbells ringing and police officers pounding on the front door.
David Boyle, 78, who lives in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, told the Associated Press at an emergency shelter that the officers told him he had to evacuate immediately as a wildfire advanced toward his home near the Getty Center museum.
"They said, 'You need to evacuate.' I'm like, 'When?' They said, 'Now,'" Doyle said
The 78-year-old said he grabbed dog food and his wife's jewelry and hustled his dogs out the door.
"It's a fact of life when you live in this area," he said. "Every place has some problem with disasters. People talk about earthquakes here, but I don't think it's as bad as hurricane season."
Mount St. Mary's University evacuated 450 students from its Chalon campus nearby, with some students picked up halfway down the mountainside by ambulances that brought them to evacuation centers.
Diana Rodriguez, a second-year business major at the school, told the Los Angeles Times resident assistants banged on students' dorms around 2:30 a.m., telling them they needed to evacuate.
Rodriguez told the paper she grabbed items such as her laptop, camera, and papers before stepping under an orange-filled sky with smoke ash that bothered her eyes.
“Really, really red and orange — pretty but a little freaky, too,” she told the paper.
Video posted to Twitter shows the scene as students tried to evacuate.
Images also how large the fire has grown, and that it can be seen from across the greater Los Angeles area.
The University of California, Los Angeles said in a statement Monday that the fire poses no threat to the campus but that many UCLA community members live in evacuation areas or could face difficulties commuting because of road closures. The school decided to cancel classes as a result.
The fire started at about 1:30 a.m. on the west side of Interstate 405 in the Sepulveda Pass that passes through the Santa Monica Mountains and has moved west. UCLA's campus is on the eastern side of the highway.
American Red Cross officials said that 100 people fleeing a wildfire in Los Angeles showed up at an emergency shelter set up at the Westwood Recreation Center. Dozens napped on cots in the gym Monday morning while others walked their dogs outside or had free coffee and breakfast, according to the AP.
The evacuation area encompasses some of the most exclusive real estate in California, where celebrities and executives live in mountain and ridgetop retreats that costs tens of millions of dollars.
The hills that provide seclusion are covered in thick tinder-dry chaparral vulnerable to wind-driven fires.
In the northern part of the state, a blaze that broke out last week amid Sonoma County's vineyards and wineries north of San Francisco exploded to at least 103 square miles, destroying 96 buildings, including at least 40 homes, and threatening 80,000 more structures, authorities said. Nearly 200,000 people were under evacuation orders, mostly from the city of Santa Rosa.
California's biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, cut off power to an estimated 2.5 million people in the northern part of the state over the weekend in yet another round of blackouts aimed at preventing windblown electrical equipment from sparking more fires. Additional shut-offs are possible in the next few days.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.