Wildfires in California are raging around Los Angeles, fueled by strong Santa Ana winds. Locals are sharing images of the terrifying scene on social media.
It was not a normal commute for drivers on the 405 freeway in Los Angeles on Wednesday morning.
In the hours before sunrise, wildfire embers fueled by strong Santa Ana winds shot up into the air above traffic, creating a fiery hellscape that heated drivers' windows and temporarily shut down the interstate. Early Wednesday morning, both sides of the freeway had to be shut down, but the southbound 405 was later re-opened.
Strong Santa Ana winds and unusually dry, hot weather are fueling the fires, which started Monday in Ventura County.
The National Weather Service and local firefighters say conditions could worsen before things get better, since the windy days are expected to last until at least Saturday. A roughly 300-mile stretch of California, from the Mexican border up to Santa Maria, is on alert.
The southern California fires come just two months after northern California was hit with its deadliest spate of wildfires on record. The governor has yet again declared a state of emergency as nearly 200,000 people have been forced to evacuate.
After flames shot over cars, northbound lanes of the 405 freeway were shut down between the 101 and the 10 "for an unknown duration due to a brush fire," the California Highway Patrol tweeted.
Freeway slopes near Beverly Hills were lighting up the sky in bright orange just before dawn. The Getty Museum in the nearby hilltops was shuttered, tweeting "air filtration systems are protecting the galleries from smoke."
Twitter user Bethany Ellis posted a video, shouting "something is wrong!" and "I can feel the heat!"
Before the 405 was closed, people were tweeting out warnings about areas to avoid.
Schools in Santa Monica and Malibu were closed on Wednesday, and there's a mandatory evacuation in effect for Bel Air.
The Los Angeles Fire Department is ordering a mandatory evacuation for anyone South of Mulholland Dr, East of the 405 Freeway, West of Roscomare Road and North of Sunset Boulevard.
Strong Santa Ana winds are fueling the fire's spread. The conditions are expected to continue through "at least Saturday," according to Alex Tardy with the National Weather Service in San Diego.
Tardy said it's not unusual to have these powerful winds in December and January, but LA's very dry, warm fall made conditions ripe for ravenous fires.
Vanity Fair correspondent Rebecca Keegan tweeted that her car windows were hot to the touch.
The fires, which started in Ventura County on Monday, have already burned an area four times the size of Manhattan, CNN reports.
And the winds aren't letting up.
"Any new fires will have extreme levels of fire growth potential," the agency wrote on Twitter. "Prepare now & be ready to GO!"