Replica Tuscan castles, minimalist mansions and country cottages in the rarefied Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles could soon be reduced to ashes, their owners’ fame and wealth providing little immunity against California’s latest raging wildfires.
“We’re evacuating the street you must leave!” a police officer barked into a bullhorn, amid the din of helicopters and airplanes dropping fire retardants.
“The fire is at the end of this street,” added one of his colleagues.
The officer knocks on each door on the street — home to the likes of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, pop superstar Beyonce and media magnate Rupert Murdoch — to make sure no one is left behind.
The luxurious multi-million homes here are threatened by the fire named “Skirball”, a blaze that destroyed 200 hectares (500 acres) in less than 24 hours.
At least four homes were already reduced to ashes, while Murdoch’s property, along with his vineyard, was surrounded by flames.
Evan Klein, a photographer in jeans and a white t-shirt, locked his door taking only his cameras and his dog, who waited for him on the passenger seat of his vintage sedan. His wife was already at work.
“We woke up at 5:30 (Wednesday) morning and the fire was on the hill and was coming right towards us,” he told AFP.
“It was pitch black out and you were seeing orange on that hill, and it became enormous at the end of the street,” he said.
He hoped that the fire would remain contained — even as authorities said the wind was expected to dramatically pick up as Thursday progressed. (AFP)