Homes burn as fire breaks out in Los Angeles

VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on Southern California wildfires (all times local):

7:35 a.m.

Two homes are burning in a wildfire that has erupted in an exclusive ridge-top neighborhood in Los Angeles, the latest to hit fire-plagued Southern California.

The fire broke out before dawn Wednesday on the east side of Interstate 405 in the Sepulveda Pass and raced up steep slopes into neighborhoods at the top.

The Los Angeles Fire Department has deployed hundreds of firefighters and called in helicopters and airplanes.

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.

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6:52 a.m.

Mandatory evacuations have been ordered in an exclusive ridge-top neighborhood in Los Angeles as a dangerous new wildfire burns in Southern California.

The fire erupted before dawn Wednesday on the east side of Sepulveda Pass, which carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains on the city’s western side.

Helicopters are making water drops and more than 200 firefighters are battling flames close to homes.

In addition to the mandatory evacuations, Los Angeles Fire Department spokeswoman Margaret Stewart says a wider area on the east side of the pass has been advised to get ready in case of evacuation orders.

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5:35 a.m.

A brush fire has erupted on the east side of Los Angeles along Interstate 405 in Sepulveda Pass.

Fire Department spokesman Margaret Stewart says the fire was reported at 4:52 a.m. Wednesday and is burning uphill, driven by topography rather than winds.

Stewart says 47 firefighters are on the scene, setting up protection for homes at the top of the steep slopes. Two firefighting helicopters have been assigned.

Sepulveda Pass carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains between the western neighborhoods of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley to the north.

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12:40 a.m.

The same vicious winds that made three Southern California wildfires so destructive are also making the firefight itself more difficult.

The water-dropping planes and helicopters essential to fighting massive fires have been mostly grounded because it’s too dangerous to fly in the strong gusts.

Commanders hoped to have them back in the air on Wednesday morning, but all indications are the winds will be whipping then too.

The blazes brought evacuation orders for nearly 200,000 people, destroyed nearly 200 homes and…

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