A wind-blasted wildfire tore through the city's northern foothills Saturday, devastating a large mobile home park, forcing a hospital to evacuate some patients and sending thousands of residents fleeing for safety, AP reported.
The fire broke out late Friday in the foothill community of Sylmar on the edge of the Angeles National Forest and quickly spread across as much as 3,000 acres (1,200 hectares) - more than 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) - as it was driven by Santa Ana winds gusting as high as 76 mph (122 kph).
Dozens of homes were destroyed, officials said, and aerial footage from television helicopters showed rows of houses gutted in just in one subdivision.
Fire crews had to abandon a mobile home park that was burning out of control.
"We have almost total devastation here in the mobile park," Los Angeles Fire Capt. Steve Ruda said of the Oakridge Mobile Home Park. "I can't even read the street names because the street signs are melting."
Fire officials estimated 10,000 people lived in the area under mandatory evacuation in the Sylmar, Knollwood and Porter Ranch communities. About 80 miles (130 kilometers) to the northwest, an 1,800-acre (730-hectare) blaze in the Santa Barbara community of Montecito had forced the evacuation of more than 5,400 homes and destroyed more than 110 homes.
Another fire broke out in Southern California's Orange County, where TV footage showed at least two homes in Corona and four homes in Yorba Linda on fire. Evacuations were under way. Further details were not immediately available.
The Los Angeles fire jumped two freeways, leading police to shut them down and forcing evacuees to take surface streets.
"Near hurricane winds made it very difficult for firefighters," Los Angeles Fire deputy chief Mario Rueda said.
The Los Angeles blaze threatened at least 1,000 buildings, fire spokeswoman Melissa Kelley said. One person was hospitalized in serious condition with burns over 60 percent of his body, Kelley said. Four firefighters were treated for minor injuries.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the fire brought down some power lines and could cause rolling blackouts. He urged residents throughout the city to conserve power.
Flames struck the edge of the Olive View-UCLA Medical Center campus shortly after midnight, causing an electricity outage that forced officials to evacuate two dozen critical patients. About 130 other patients stayed behind. Power was restored at the hospital after three hours.
More than 600 firefighters struggled to protect homes threatened by flying embers. Because of the rough terrain in the forest, they were relying on water-dropping helicopters to tackle flames. Authorities said some aircraft were grounded during the night by the savage wind, but they expected six airplanes and a dozen helicopters to attack the fire during the day.
The fire in Montecito started Thursday night, exploding through dry brush and vast stands of oil-rich eucalyptus trees. About 800 firefighters were battling the fire at the wealthy, celebrity-studded enclave, and they were expected to make significant progress through Saturday morning, said Santa Barbara city fire spokesman John Ahlman.
"There's plenty of hot material still left out there," he said. "But things could change in a hurry if the winds pick up."
Several multimillion-dollar homes and a small college suffered major damage in Montecito, a quaint and secluded area that has attracted celebrities such as Rob Lowe, Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas and Oprah Winfrey.
The fire quickly consumed rows of luxury homes and parts of Westmont College, a Christian liberal arts school, where students spent the night in a gymnasium shelter.
Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum said up to 200 homes may have been destroyed or damaged.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
At least 13 people were injured in Montecito. A 98-year-old man with multiple medical problems died after being evacuated, but it was unclear if his death was directly related to the blaze, Santa Barbara County Sheriff-Coroner Bill Brown said.
Montecito, known for its balmy climate and charming Spanish colonial homes, suffered a major fire in 1977, when more than 200 homes burned. A fire in 1964 burned about 67,000 acres (27,000 hectares) and damaged 150 houses and buildings.