A wildfire swept through the star-studded hills of Los Angeles on Monday, destroying several large homes and forcing LeBron James and thousands of others to flee. Meanwhile, a blaze in Northern California wine country exploded in size.
The flames that roared up a steep hillside near the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles’ Brentwood section illustrated the danger the state faces as high winds batter both ends of California and threaten to turn any spark into a devastating inferno.
No deaths from either blaze were reported, but a firefighter was seriously injured in the blaze in Sonoma County wine country.
Some 2.2 million people lacked electricity after California’s biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, shut it off over the weekend in the northern part of the state to prevent its equipment from sparking blazes during windy weather. More deliberate blackouts are possible in the coming days because another round of strong winds is expected.
The company, which was driven into bankruptcy after its equipment ignited several deadly wildfires in recent years, admitted Monday that despite the outages, its power lines may have started two smaller fires over the weekend in the San Francisco Bay Area.
About 156,000 people were under evacuation orders because of the fire, mostly from the city of Santa Rosa.
The flames didn’t discriminate. In wine country, farmworkers who toil in the vineyards were among those displaced. In Los Angeles, James and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger were driven from their homes.