The biggest and most destructive of several wildfires burning in Southern California has scorched more than 261 square kilometres, forcing part of one of the busiest freeways to close during peak hour traffic.
Flames exploded before dawn on the steep slopes of the east side of Sepulveda Pass, which carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains where ridge tops are covered with expensive homes. At least two could be seen burning.
The 405 connects the San Fernando Valley to Santa Monica and other major job centers on the west side of Los Angeles.
State fire authorities say the fire burning in Ventura County about 95 kilometres northwest of Los Angeles is also considered a threat to 12,000 structures.
Dozens of homes have burned since the fire erupted on Tuesday (NZT) amid fierce Santa Ana winds.
The Los Angeles Fire Department has deployed hundreds of firefighters and called in helicopters and airplanes.
Firefighters gather in front of a residential area as a wildfire burns along the 101 Freeway on Wednesday.
Source: AP Photo / Jae C. Hong
Evacuations have been ordered and a wider area has been told to be ready for orders to leave.
It's the same region of Los Angeles where hundreds of homes burned in the famous 1961 Bel Air Fire.