Investigators looking at the cause of the Getty fire are examining utility lines near where the blaze started Monday morning along the 405 Freeway in the Sepulveda Pass, two sources familiar with the investigation said.
The sources, who spoke to the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity because the case is ongoing, emphasized that the cause of the fire had not yet been determined.
But investigators have pinpointed the ignition point and do not believe it was the result of arson, the sources said. One witness told investigators flashes were seen in the area around the poles, they added.
A firefighter sprays down hot spots on a home along the 12000 block of Sky Lane on Monday in Los Angeles. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
A firefighting aircraft drops fire retardant on the Getty fire in Mandeville Canyon near the Brentwood Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles firefighters mop up after a home was destroyed by the Getty fire along Tigertail Road in Los Angeles. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
From left, Betsy Landis, 90, and her neighbor Nola Hyland, 79, who both evacuated from their homes at the end of Mandeville Canyon, talk with Rochelle Linnetz inside the Westwood Recreation Center on Sepulveda Boulevard that was turned into an evacuation center. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
The Getty fire broke out shortly before 2 a.m. Monday along the 405 Freeway near the Getty Center and spread to the south and west, threatening thousands of homes in Brentwood and other Westside hillside communities. (KTLA)
An L.A. firefighter keeps down flames at a burned home in the 1100 block of Tigertail Road in the Brentwood Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
The sun rises over smoke-filled canyons above the Getty museum and a burned home on Tigertail Road as the Getty fire burns in Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Alex Holbrook, a student EMT at UCLA, talks with Sylvia Snow, 95, inside the Westwood Recreation Center on Sepulveda Boulevard , which was turned into an evacuation center. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
The sun rises over a smoke-filled canyon above the Getty museum as the Getty fire burns in Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
L.A. Fire Department arson team conducts an investigation near a utility pole of a possible area of origin of the Getty fire along the 1700 block of North Sepulveda Boulevard. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Barn manager Stephanie Nagler leads a horse named Howie Doin to a horse trailer while helping to evacuate around 120 horses from the Sullivan Canyon Equestrian Community near the intersection of Rivera Ranch Road and Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A helicopter makes a drop on the Getty fire, which was threatening thousands of homes in Brentwood and other hillside communities on the Westside of Los Angeles on Monday morning. (Gray Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
Aerial view of homes shrouded in smoke from the Getty fire. (KTLA)
Barn manager Stephanie Nagler, left, holds a rabbit named Chi Chi while helping to evacuate animals, mostly horses, from the Sullivan Canyon Equestrian Community near the intersection of Riviera Ranch Road and Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood. (Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters work the Getty fire as it burns homes along Tigertail Road in the Brentwood Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters work heavy brush along Sepulveda Boulevard in the Sepulveda Pass as the Getty fire burns in Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters head out for brush work along Sepulveda Boulevard in the Sepulveda Pass as the Getty fire as it burns in Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters work in heavy brush along Sepulveda Boulevard in the Sepulveda Pass as the Getty fire burns in Los Angeles. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Firefighters try to save a home on Tigertail Road during the Getty fire in Los Angeles on Monday morning. (Christian Monterrosa / Associated Press)
A man walks past a burning home during the Getty fire in Los Angeles on Monday morning. (Christian Monterrosa / Associated Press)
A firefighter watches flames approach the Mandeville Canyon neighborhood during the Getty fire on Monday morning. (Christian Monterrosa / Associated Press)
Firefighters try to save a home from the Getty fire on Tigertail Road in Los Angeles on Monday morning. (Christian Monterrosa / Associated Press)
The power lines being examined are operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, according to a fire official. The agency said it was cooperating with the investigation.
Unlike Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, the state’s largest power providers, the DWP does not shut off service to customers before or during a wind event . Its service footprint is also in a highly urbanized, less wildfire-prone area compared with the other utilities.
“Our systems are completely different,” Andrew Kendall, senior assistant manager of the DWP’s power system, said at a board meeting earlier this month. “We have a 465 – square-mile service territory. PG & E’s is 70, 000 square miles, Edison is 50, 000 square miles. ”
He said that, for the most part, those utilities are shutting down their distribution systems, not their transmission systems.
“Most of ours, if not the majority of ours, are in an area where we’re no more than a five- to seven-minute LAFD response,” Kendall said. “So right now, at this time and based on previous history, we don’t feel we’re at a point where it’s prudent to do a shutdown.”
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The Getty fire broke out shortly after 1: 30 am Monday along the 405 Freeway near the Getty Center and spread to the south and west, rapidly burning more than 600 acres and sending thousands of people fleeing from their homes in the dark.
About 600 DWP customers in the Getty fire area remain without power on Tuesday.
At about 3: 19 am Monday, the utility took three circuits out of service, resulting in 2, 600 customers losing power in Bel-Air, Brentwood and Westwood. One of the circuits is still de-energized. The other two have been turned back on, said Carol Tucker, a spokeswoman for the utility.
Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas said that, despite firefighters’ efforts, eight homes, including some on Tigertail Road , have been destroyed in the blaze. Six others were damaged. Some homes that were destroyed were adjacent to properties that didn’t sustain any damage at all, he said.
“They were literally overwhelmed,” Terrazas said of crews fighting the fire within neighborhoods. “They had to make some tough decisions on which houses they were able to protect. Many times, it depends u pon where the ember lands. ”
The neighborhoods around the Sepulveda Pass have seen more than their share of fires over the years – and residents say they know to be on guard.
In the hills surrounding Danny Cahn’s home, fires have a history of blazing out of control. In 1961, when Cahn was a preschooler, residents had to flee an inferno that swept through Bel-Air and Brentwood, destroying 484 Homes.
Cahn, 62, said life had never quite been the same since the “big one” roared though, propelled by Santa Ana winds that left a number of LA’s rich and famous homeless.
“ There’s always a threat hanging in the air around here, ”said the retired film editor, who was taking photos Monday of aircraft dropping pink retardant and water on flames about half a mile away. “I can recall six or seven major fires in my lifetime.
“ When the smoke clears and the fires are out, ”he said,“ it’ll be a wonderful place to live – until the next wildfire. ”
Another major fire that broke out in the Sylmar area earlier this month is also under investigation.The Saddleridge fire, which burned homes in Porter Ranch, started under Southern California Edison power lines.
Edison later said its electrical system was “impacted” around that time. The utility hasn’t provided additional details.
Earlier this year, authorities alleged that two Los Angeles men intentionallyset fire to a homeless encampment, a situation that sparked a brush fire and led to the evacuations of several homes in Eagle Rock and Glendale.
Staff writer Mark Puente contributed to this report.