Rapidly spreading wildfires sparked in the Southern California counties of Los Angeles and Ventura this week, causing structural loss, evacuations, closures and cancellations. Homes, businesses, schools, television production studios and the NFL’s L.A. Rams’ practice have all been impacted. As of press time, the most significant impact on meetings is the closure of the northbound 405 freeway between the 10 and 101 freeways. The southbound lanes have reopened.
This stretch of road, known as the Sepulveda Pass, is heavily trafficked for commuters to major meeting hotels along its route and to get to and from two of Los Angeles’ major airports. Frederick Badlissi, the public information officer for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), tells Smart Meetings that the Van Nuys route of their LAX FlyAway service is delayed due to the route closure. Passengers should budget extra time for re-routing and expect to tack on 50 percent additional commute time. However, the airport itself remained undisrupted.
Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) is also “open and remains operational,” Rachael A. Warecki, public relations and media specialist for the airport, says. She does encourage passengers to periodically check with their air carrier for the latest information, as flight status is subject to change based on the spread of the fire.
Major meeting hotels mere miles from the blaze, such as W Los Angeles–West Beverly Hills, The Beverly Hilton and Luxe Hotel Sunset remain open for business, but are closely monitoring the situation as it continues to develop. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) spokesperson Kim Hughes tells Smart Meetings that she is unaware of any hotels or conference facilities without power due to high winds. LADWP does sometimes have to turn off electricity at the request of fire officials for safety reasons, but that is not the case at the moment.
Some meeting venues and popular tourist attractions are within danger zones and have been forced to cease operations until further notice. The Getty Center, which sits atop a hill along the 405 freeway, was surrounded by flames early this morning. “The fire is northeast of the Getty Center and east of the San Diego Freeway,” the museum Tweeted. “Air filtration systems are protecting the galleries from smoke. We continue to monitor the situation and will issue updates as we have them.” Their other property, Getty Villa, in Pacific Palisades is also closed.
Skirball Cultural Center, which is also located near the 405, shut down until given the all-clear. “Our thoughts are with all our neighbors, and our thanks to the first responders working to keep us all safe,” they Tweeted.
North of Los Angeles, in Ventura County, Valencia’s Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park has locked their gates. Flames could be seen alarmingly close to the rollercoasters on news broadcasts. According to their website, the theme park plans to reopen on Dec. 9 for their Holiday in the Park celebration.
Many of these fires are zero percent or very minimally contained, so evacuation suggestions and orders can change rapidly. People in or traveling to the Los Angeles area can register to receive alerts with the most up-to-date information by texting the word “READY” to 888-777. In a press conference this morning, Mayor Eric Garcetti referred concerned people to visit lausd.net and lacity.org for the latest details and maps.