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Getty Fire: Southern California gets extreme red-flag warning

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Getty Fire: Southern California gets extreme red-flag warning

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Getty Fire burns next to a motorway in the hills of Los Angeles

An "extreme red-flag warning" has been issued in California over the Getty Fire, the first such alert of its kind.

Issued by the Los Angeles weather service, it covers Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino counties.

Winds are expected to reach 80mph (128km/h) and there is concern they will fan the fire, which has already burned through 658 acres.

Some 1,100 firefighters are tackling the blaze and thousands of structures are at risk, authorities say.

At least eight homes have been destroyed by the Getty Fire and five others damaged. About 15% of the fire has been contained.

Winds are expected to pick up late on Tuesday with forecasters warning that they could hit their highest speeds of the season.

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"This Santa Ana wind event will likely be the strongest we have seen so far this season," the weather service said.

"These strong winds, combined with a long duration of single-digit humidities and dry fuels, will likely bring very critical fire weather conditions, making this an extreme red-flag warning event."

Image copyright EPA
Image caption The Getty Fire has already burned through 658 acres

Fire chief Ralph M Terrazas told the New York Times that his goal for Tuesday was to increase containment ahead of the evening's strong winds. He added he was very concerned by the threats the winds posed.

"It does take one ember, just one ember downwind, to start another brush fire," Mr Terrazas said at a press conference on Tuesday – adding that embers have been known to travel several miles in winds.

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said that the 7,000-plus residents evacuated so far should not plan on returning home until conditions were safe.

Basketball star LeBron James and actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger are among those who have evacuated their homes.

On Tuesday, James sent a taco truck to feed a number of firefighters tackling the Getty Fire.

Image Copyright @MayorOfLA @MayorOfLA Report
Twitter post by @MayorOfLA: Thank you, @KingJames, for generously sending a taco truck to support our @LAFD firefighters, first responders, and partner agencies working to fight the #GettyFire. Image Copyright @MayorOfLA @MayorOfLA Report

The Getty Centre, which houses a large art collection, is also at risk.

The museum said in a tweet that the art was "protected by a state-of-the-art technology" and that the safest place for it was inside.

Authorities say the Getty Fire was probably caused by a tree branch falling on power lines in the high winds.

A number of wildfires have broken out in the state over the last week. The Kincade Fire in northern California has burned through more than 75,000 acres.

Thousands of people have been left without power as companies shut off electricity to prevent a further outbreak of fires. Currently, about 15% of the fire is contained.

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Media captionJets drop fire retardant on blaze in northern California

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