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As drivers headed down the 405 freeway, they were met with giant flames from the several fires burning in Southern California.
USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — The wildfires that ravaged the edges of this city in recent days came to its heart Wednesday, setting several homes ablaze near Bel Air and other exclusive neighborhoods on its tony westside.

By 10 a.m. PT, the fire had consumed 150 acres after breaking out six hours earlier. It was centered in the hills and canyons that are home to some of the city’s most expensive residences, including those owned by movie stars and other celebrities.

At least four homes were destroyed, Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters. “Our plan is to stop this fire before it becomes something bigger,” he said.

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Helicopters and six air tankers made water drops as a thick pall of smoke wafted across the city. Mass evacuations were underway in the canyon areas. About 500 firefighters tackled the blaze near the Bel Air neighborhood where more than 500 homes burned in a 1961 blaze that led to many new fire-safety measures.

The blaze started in the Sepulveda Pass, where the San Diego I-405 Freeway cuts a path through the mountains to connect West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Authorities temporarily closed the freeway, leaving many unable to get to their jobs. Later, it partly reopened.

The fire cut through the hills above UCLA and relatively close to the Getty Center, home to one of the nation’s top art museums. It’s part of a series of wind-driven fires that destroyed more than 180 homes in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. The latest fire, however, came as winds were relatively light.