The fire today has moved farther southeast, toward the western edge of Altadena, though officials said no evacuations have been ordered yet in that community, and has spread to the northwest in the forest.
"It’s growing," said Dianne Cahir, spokeswoman for Angeles National Forest.
Nabila Idroos, 60, a stay-at-home mom, stood near the fence with a towel pressed to her face next to her car packed with valuables — passports, jewelry, insurance documents, laptops and the Koran. She and her husband, a doctor, raised their children in the neighborhood.
“How much can you take when you live in a home for 20 years?” Idroos said. “Hopefully no structures get destroyed. That’s all I’m praying for. Things can get replaced, but not lives.”
Idroos said she lives on nearby Greenwood Street, an area under voluntary evacuation. She said she left home with her husband briefly last night and stopped by La Cañada High School, but returned a few hours later.
“We’ve been here 20 years and I’ve never seen something like this,” Idroos said.
Though several fires were burning in the area, air quality throughout much of the Los Angeles Basin and the San Gabriel Valley was slightly better this morning than in recent days. However, officials said it could get worse later in the day. A smoke advisory was issued for areas near the fires.
The Red Cross opened an evacuation center Thursday in the gym of Palos Verdes Peninsula High School. A handful of residents streamed in shortly before midnight, chatting in the parking lot and crowding around a television set tuned to the local news.
"I’m sick," said Mary Lopes, who has lived in the Del Cerro neighborhood for 21 years. Her husband is out of town and she evacuated when sheriff’s deputies came through her neighborhood about 9:30 p.m. urging residents to leave on their loudspeakers. "It was scary."
She packed some family pictures and computer equipment.
She said she has seen the neighborhood survive many fires, but is especially worried about this one. "It just feels like it could come," she said. "It’s more frightening."
Olga and Bob Jones, who have lived in the same neighborhood for 29 years, evacuated with their three dogs. A glowing red cloud of smoke and flames rose over the area as they left their home Thursday evening.
"I think it’s going to be OK," Olga Jones said. "The firefighters are doing their job. They’re just wonderful."
The Terranea Resort, a luxury hotel perched on a coastal bluff that opened in June and whose rooms usually go for $264 a night, provided free lodging for evacuees and their pets. "We made the decision as soon as we saw the situation on the news," spokeswoman Wendy Haase said.
Six families had checked in by 12:30 a.m. and more streamed in clutching dogs. Bellboys offered snacks for the pets.
Bernice and Michael Green and their labradoodle Amber were initially going to spend the night at the evacuation center at Palos Verdes Peninsula High, until they heard that there were free rooms at the resort. "It’s got to more comfortable than sleeping on a cot," Bernice Green said.
The couple was walking their dog in the evening when they heard about the fire.
Officials told than around 9 p.m. that there was a little smoldering; they were ordered to evacuate their Amber Sky Drive home a short while later. She was optimistic that firefighters would gain the upper hand on the blaze. "They were very confident they would have it under control and contain it," she said. "That makes me feel very comfortable."
She recalled the community had a big party for firefighters after the last major wildfire in the area three years ago. "We just really admire them," she said.
Fire crews were making headway against the fourth fire, called the Morris fire because it began in the area of Morris Dam north of Azusa and Glendora.
The fire, which started Tuesday, had consumed 1,700 acres and was 45% contained by Thursday evening.