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Update: Getty will be open Saturday after 405 Freeway brush fire

September 15, 2012|By Mike Boehm
  • A helicopter tries to douse flames from a brush fire in the Sepulveda Pass. The Getty Center closed early, although it was not threatened by the fire on the opposite side of the 405 Freeway.
A helicopter tries to douse flames from a brush fire in the Sepulveda Pass.… (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles…)

[Update 11:37 a.m. Saturday: The Getty Center has announced that the museum will be open on Saturday after being closed Friday when a fire broke out across the 405 Freeway.

[Saturday's 6 p.m. performance by the musical duo Poolside will go on as scheduled.

[A center spokesman advised that road and 405 Freeway offramp closures may affect drives and that visitors should check route conditions before heading to the museum.

An art exhibition called “The Last Days of Pompeii” opened Wednesday at the Getty Villa in Malibu, but its sister venue, the Getty Center in Brentwood, is the one that got a taste Friday afternoon of smoke and flames, which were part of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that famously destroyed the Roman city in 79 AD.

A brush fire broke out on the eastern side of the Sepulveda Pass, across the 405 Freeway from the Getty Center, threatening high-priced homes in neighboring Bel-Air.  Although it posed no threat to the Getty, spokeswoman Julie Jaskol said museum officials grew concerned about the potential for a traffic jam in the area and voluntarily decided to close.

Jaskol said the Getty Center closed its gate to new arrivals at 3:50 p.m. Friday and closed the museum at 4:25 p.m. to begin what she described as a “voluntary evacuation.” The museum had been scheduled to stay open until 9 p.m. Friday.

Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s communications chief, said that Friday was his day off but that he was en route to the Getty Center for a dinner, driving in Hollywood, when he saw a plume of smoke and soon got a call informing him about the brush fire. Hartwig said that on Friday afternoons this time of year, typically fewer than 1,000 visitors would be at the museum.

Jaskol said that total attendance for the day was 2,200, but that “by late afternoon, there were far fewer remaining.”

In July 2009, a Wednesday afternoon brush fire on Getty Center Drive near the museum forced the evacuation of about 1,600 visitors and 800 employees.  At least 350 city and county firefighters responded, and the blaze was extinguished without damage to museum property.

In October 2008, a brush fire that broke out about 1 a.m. burned about 100 acres near the Getty Center and neighboring Mount St. Mary’s College.

Brush fire prevention at the Getty has in the past included bringing in 300 goats to graze on the  hillside terrain near the museum, removing what otherwise might become kindling.


Gawk at grazing goats at the Getty

Firefighters aggressively fighting blaze near Getty Center



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