A wildfire has swept through the star-studded hills of Los Angeles, destroying several homes and forcing thousands to flee, including Hollywood actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and basketball star LeBron James.
The flames that roared up a steep hillside near the J Paul Getty Museum in Brentwood illustrated the danger the state faces as high winds batter both ends of California and threaten to turn any spark into a devastating inferno.
“Man these LA (fires) are no joke,” Los Angeles Lakers star James tweeted, adding: “Crazy night.”
The premiere of former state governor Schwarzenegger’s latest movie, Terminator: Dark Fate, was cancelled on Monday night.
Others who own homes in the evacuation zone include Kamala Harris, a senator running for the Democratic nomination for president, who was not home at the time, Walt Disney Company chief executive Bob Iger, and rapper and producer Dr Dre.
Anxious residents made their way down steep hillsides in the middle of the night in Range Rovers, Teslas and Maseratis.
They left behind homes decorated for Halloween — skeletons hanging from homes, goblins sitting on front steps, cobwebs draped over bushes — as a plume of smoke glowed like a giant pumpkin.
The evacuation area extended west into Pacific Palisades, encompassing some of the most exclusive real estate in California, where celebrities and wealthy professionals live in estates nestled in canyons or on ridge-top retreats that cost tens of millions but are surrounded by tinder-dry vegetation.
At least eight homes were destroyed and six damaged in the LA-area blaze, fire officials said.
Meanwhile, a blaze in northern California’s wine country exploded in size.
No deaths from either blaze were reported.
Some 2.2 million people were without electricity after California’s biggest utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), shut it off over the weekend in the northern part of the state to prevent its equipment from sparking blazes during windy weather.
PG&E warned more deliberate blackouts are possible in 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 on Monday that despite the outages, its power lines may have started two smaller fires over the weekend in the San Francisco Bay area.
PG&E also said its transmission lines may have been responsible for the Sonoma County fire.
That blaze, which broke out last week amid the vineyards and wineries north of San Francisco, grew to at least 116 square miles, destroying 123 buildings including 57 homes, damaging another dozen homes and threatening 90,000 more structures, authorities said.
Although 30,000 people were allowed back home on Monday, about 156,000 were still under evacuation orders because of the fire, mostly from the city of Santa Rosa.
People on the eastern side of the fire and in neighbouring Lake County were also given evacuation warnings to be prepared to leave because of changing winds.