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Evacuations as wildfire breaks out in Los Angeles

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A wildfire broke out early Monday near the renowned Getty Center in Los Angeles, forcing widespread evacuations as the flames destroyed several homes in hillside communities.

The so-called Getty Fire broke out overnight near a major freeway and quickly spread south and west, scorching 500 acres (202 hectares) and sending people fleeing in the dark.

Among those forced to leave their home was Los Angeles Lakers basketball star LeBron James who tweeted that he and his family had evacuated his home in the upscale neighborhood of Brentwood during the night.

"Man these LA fires aren't no joke," he said. "Had to emergency evacuate my house and I've been driving around with my family trying to get rooms. No luck so far!"

He later tweeted that he had found a place to accommodate the family.

Another A-lister, Arnold Schwarzenegger, also tweeted on Monday that he and his family had to flee.

"We evacuated safely at 3:30 this morning," he tweeted. "If you are in an evacuation zone, don’t screw around. Get out. Right now I am grateful for the best firefighters in the world, the true action heroes who charge into the danger to protect their fellow Californians."

The Getty Fire -- which forced the closure of several nearby schools -- broke out as California has been dealing with a number of wildfires that have ignited throughout the state in the last week forcing massive evacuations and power cuts.

- 'We are devastated' -
California's governor declared a statewide emergency on Sunday as a wind-driven fire in the Sonoma wine region, north of San Francisco, spread out of control, forcing tens of thousands to flee.

The Kincade Fire, which erupted last Wednesday, had spread to more than 66,000 acres, or more than 100 square miles, by Monday morning and was only five percent contained.

Firefighters have also been battling about a dozen additional fires that have broken out in the last week, fed by strong winds, low humidity, and high temperatures.

People who fled the Kincade Fire recalled hasty departures as they waited it out in the safety of a community center in Petaluma, California.

"The police came with loudspeakers. We weren't expecting it," said Kathy Amundson, who fled with her wheelchair-bound 90-year-old mother Joy.

"We smelled smoke, we couldn't see it," she said. "Looks like our home is safe but the fear is wind blowing embers and then it starts new fires."

Others were not so lucky. The fire has destroyed dozens of homes and vineyards, including the renowned 150-year-old Soda Rock Winery.

"We've seen the news. We are devastated," the owners said in a Facebook message, adding that all staff at the winery -- located in the town of Healdsburg, 70 miles north of San Francisco -- are safe.

At least two hospitals in Santa Rosa evacuated patients over the weekend to other facilities.


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