Illegal campfire caused 'Skirball' blaze that torched homes in Bel-Air, officials say

An illegal cooking fire at an encampment near a Los Angeles freeway sparked a fast-moving wildfire last week that destroyed homes in the tony Bel-Air neighborhood and closed down a major freeway, authorities said Tuesday.

The Los Angeles Fire Department said that the cooking fire in a brush area near Sepulveda Boulevard where it passes underneath the 405 Freeway was the cause of the so-called Skirball Fire, which broke out at around 5 a.m. Wednesday and destroyed six homes.

There have been no arrests, the Fire Department said. The fire was at a homeless encampment, but the Fire Department had no previous knowledge of an encampment there, LAFD public information director Peter Sanders said.

The Skirball Fire forced the closure of the freeway, a major north-south artery in Los Angeles, and prompted worries that it could jump the freeway and threaten the Getty Museum and its priceless art collection.

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Skirball Fire in Bel-Air, California
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Skirball Fire in Bel-Air, California
Flames are seen behind a Bel Air mansion threatened by the Skirball Fire in west Los Angeles, California on December 6, 2017. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno Wednesday as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
BEL AIR - DECEMBER 07: Members of Crew 3 head up a hill behind a home to do mop up work from the Skirball fire along Moraga Drive in Bel Air on December 7, 2017. Crew 3 are part of the Los Angeles Fire Department's cadet program and volunteer their time while working on fires. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
BEL-AIR, CA - DECEMBER 6: Firefighters try and save a home along Linda Flora Dr. in Bel Air, where the Skirball fire prompted a full closure of the 405 Freeway as well as mandatory evacuations in an area of multimillion-dollar homes on December 6, 2017 in Bel-Air, California. (Photo by Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 06: Interstate 405 is deserted after being closed during rush hour in an area near the Skirball Fire on December 6, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Strong Santa Ana winds are rapidly pushing multiple wildfires across the region, expanding across tens of thousands of acres and destroying hundreds of homes and structures. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Firefighters work to save burning houses along Linda Flora Drive during the Skirball Fire in Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. The 'Skirball' fire ignited before 5 a.m. (1300 GMT) and quickly engulfed some 50 acres, with forecasters predicting the 25-mile-per-hour winds could cause further spreading, threatening multi-million dollar homes and the acclaimed Getty Center museum. / AFP PHOTO / Kyle Grillot (Photo credit should read KYLE GRILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A person carrying a skateboard wears a face mask to protect against smoke coming from the Skirball Fire in the upscale Bel-Air section of west Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter walks through a property while working to save homes during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A home burns as a wildfire, dubbed the Skirball Fire, moves through a wealthy neighborhood, on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
Smoke from the Skirball Fire rises above the 405 freeway near the Bel Aire area of Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A building on the vineyard estate of media mogul Rupert Murdoch catches fire during the Skirball fire in Bel Air, a wealthy neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
Homes catch fire as a wildfire dubbed the Skirball Fire moves through a wealthy neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
A fire department helicopter makes a water drop building on the vineyard estate of media mogul Rupert Murdoch catches fire during the Skirball fire in Bel Air, a wealthy neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
Smoke left from the Skirball fire rises over a home near the Bel Air neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
A firefighter controls flames burning in a home at the Skirball Fire in the upscale Bel- Air section of west Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno Wednesday as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke left from the Skirball fire rises over homes near the Bel Air neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
A helicopter drops water on hotspots left by the Skirball fire near the Bel Air neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
A firefighter stands watch outside of a vineyard owned by Rupert Murdoch damaged by the Skirball fire near the Bel Air neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
Elizabeth Rawjee sprays water from a garden hose onto hotspots left by the Skirball fire in her backyard on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
BEL-AIR, CA - DECEMBER 6: Firefighters try and save a home from the Skirball fire along Linda Flora Drive on December 6, 2017 in Bel-Air, California. (Photo by Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A helicopter drops water on a vineyard owned by Rupert Murdoch damaged by the Skirball fire near the Bel Air neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
A fire team hand crew descends a steep slope to prevent fire from jumping to the west side of the 405 freeway, at the Skirball Fire along the 405 freeway near the Bel Air area of Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter walks out of a vineyard owned by Rupert Murdoch damaged by the Skirball fire near the Bel Air neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
Smoke rises from a home damaged by the Skirball fire near the Bel Air neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
BEL AIR, CA - DECEMBER 07: Firefighter Bobby D'Amico looks over a home that survived the Skirball fire in Bel-Air on December 7, 2017. The fire came to within yards of the home. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
BEL AIR, USA - DECEMBER 6: Home owners watch as the Skirball Fire burns Wednesday, December 6, 2017 in Bel Air, California, United States. Interstate 405 was shutdown North of Westwood as the fire neared the road. (Photo by Justin L. Stewart/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Firefighters spray water on a home's deck during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Flames burn from a destroyed home's natural gas line during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A burned-out car sits outside a destroyed home during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Charred oranges hang from a burnt tree during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The columns of a destroyed home stand among rubble during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BEL AIR, CA - DECEMBER 07: Firefighter Bobby D'Amico looks out over the Getty Center while monitoring the scene over Bel-Air where the Skirball fire has destroyed homes on December 7, 2017. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
BEL AIR, CA - DECEMBER 07: A hotspot flares up next to a mansion remnants of the Skirball fire in Bel-Air on December 7, 2017. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
BEL AIR, CA - DECEMBER 07: Firefighters Bobby D'Amico, from left, Matt Streeter and Captain Bob Williams look out over a charred Bel-Air caused by the Skirball fire along Linda Flora Drive in Bel Air on December 7, 2017. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
BEL AIR - DECEMBER 07: A mansion stands near the charred hillside caused by the Skirball fire in Bel-Air on December 7, 2017. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Smoke rises from destroyed homes during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A firefighter loads belongings into the trunk of a resident's Bentley as she evacuates her Bel Air home, at the the Skirball Fire in west Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno Wednesday as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
BEL AIR, USA - DECEMBER 6: Police guard the entrance to the north bound lane of Interstate 405 in Westwood as the Skirball Fire burns Wednesday, December 6, 2017 in Bel Air, California, United States. Interstate 405 was shutdown North of Westwood as the fire neared the road. (Photo by Justin L. Stewart/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
BEL AIR, USA - DECEMBER 6: Smoke begins to cloud around the Getty Center as the Skirball Fire burns Wednesday, December 6, 2017 in Bel Air, California, United States. Interstate 405 was shutdown North of Westwood as the fire neared the road. (Photo by Justin L. Stewart/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Flames are seen behind a Bel Air mansion threatened by the Skirball Fire in west Los Angeles, California on December 6, 2017. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno Wednesday as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
A firefighter loads belongings into the trunk of a resident's Bentley as she evacuates her Bel Air home, at the the Skirball Fire in west Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno Wednesday as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Smoke rises from a hotspot left by the Skirball fire in a vineyard owned by Rupert Muroch near the Bel Air neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen
BEL-AIR, CA - DECEMBER 6: The bedroom of a home is engulfed in flames from the Skirball fire along Linda Flora Drive on December 6, 2017 in Bel-Air, California. (Photo by Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A firefighter sprays water onto vegetation while working to save homes during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Flames from the Skirball Fire spread on a hillside in a wealthy neighborhood on the west side of Los Angeles, California, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Gene Blevins
Firefighters work to save burning houses along Linda Flora Drive during the Skirball Fire in Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. The 'Skirball' fire ignited before 5 a.m. (1300 GMT) and quickly engulfed some 50 acres, with forecasters predicting the 25-mile-per-hour winds could cause further spreading, threatening multi-million dollar homes and the acclaimed Getty Center museum. / AFP PHOTO / Kyle Grillot (Photo credit should read KYLE GRILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters work to save burning houses along Linda Flora Drive during the Skirball Fire in Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. The 'Skirball' fire ignited before 5 a.m. (1300 GMT) and quickly engulfed some 50 acres, with forecasters predicting the 25-mile-per-hour winds could cause further spreading, threatening multi-million dollar homes and the acclaimed Getty Center museum. / AFP PHOTO / Kyle Grillot (Photo credit should read KYLE GRILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A house is threatened by wildfire along Linda Flora Drive during the Skirball Fire in Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. The 'Skirball' fire ignited before 5 a.m. (1300 GMT) and quickly engulfed some 50 acres, with forecasters predicting the 25-mile-per-hour winds could cause further spreading, threatening multi-million dollar homes and the acclaimed Getty Center museum. / AFP PHOTO / Kyle Grillot (Photo credit should read KYLE GRILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
A truck drives south on the 405 freeway as a fire team hand crew descends a steep slope to prevent fire from jumping to the west side of the freeway, at the Skirball Fire along the 405 freeway near the Bel Aire area of Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighter work to save burning houses along Linda Flora Drive during the Skirball Fire in Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. The 'Skirball' fire ignited before 5 a.m. (1300 GMT) and quickly engulfed some 50 acres, with forecasters predicting the 25-mile-per-hour winds could cause further spreading, threatening multi-million dollar homes and the acclaimed Getty Center museum. / AFP PHOTO / Kyle Grillot (Photo credit should read KYLE GRILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters work to save burning houses along Linda Flora Drive during the Skirball Fire in Los Angeles, California, December 6, 2017. The 'Skirball' fire ignited before 5 a.m. (1300 GMT) and quickly engulfed some 50 acres, with forecasters predicting the 25-mile-per-hour winds could cause further spreading, threatening multi-million dollar homes and the acclaimed Getty Center museum. / AFP PHOTO / Kyle Grillot (Photo credit should read KYLE GRILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)
Firefighters put out burning embers near hilltop homes in Bel Air, east of the 405 freeway heading north on December 6, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
The morning commute traffic comes to a standstill on the 405 North as smoke can be seen from burning homes in Bel Air on December 6, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
A huge plume of black smoke rises from a burning home on a hilltop beside one still standing in Bel Air, east of the 405 freeway on December 6, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. California motorists commuted past a blazing inferno as wind-whipped wildfires raged across the Los Angeles region, with flames triggering the closure of a major freeway and mandatory evacuations in an area dotted with mansions. / AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
BEL-AIR, CA - DECEMBER 6: Firefighters try and save a home along Linda Flora Dr. in Bel Air, where the Skirball fire prompted a full closure of the 405 Freeway as well as mandatory evacuations in an area of multimillion-dollar homes on December 6, 2017 in Bel-Air, California. (Photo by Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A firefighter stands beside a Christmas tree rescued from a burning home during the Skirball Fire in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, U.S., on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Fast-moving�fires�fanned by high winds in Southern California charred 50,000 acres of land, and prompted a shut down of the Interstate 405 highway as they moved closer to Los Angeles. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images
BEL AIR, CA - DECEMBER 07: David Thompson and his dog Blue wait, along with other Bel-Air residents, for a police escort to check on a friend's home on Moraga Drive which is still under evacuation orders due to the Skirball fire in Bel Air on December 7, 2017. (Photo by Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
A burnt out house is seen after the Skirball wildfire swept through the exclusive enclave of Bel Air, California on December 7, 2017. Local emergency officials warned of powerful winds on December 7 that will feed wildfires raging in Los Angeles, threatening multi-million dollar mansions with blazes that have already forced more than 200,000 people to flee. / AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
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The fire, which burned more than 400 acres, was 85 percent contained on Tuesday, the Fire Department said.

The fire broke out as firefighters across Southern California battles several other large wildfires, the largest of which, the Thomas fire in Ventura County, was 20 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known asCal Fire.

One death has been blamed in all of the recent fires. A 70-year-old woman died in a car crash "during active fire evacuation" from the Thomas Fire, the Ventura County medical examiner said. The body of Virginia Pesola, of Santa Paula, was found on Wednesday.

Related: California faces ‘new normal’ of intense wildfires, governor says

The Thomas fire has destroyed nearly 800 homes or other structures since it broke out on Dec. 4, and still threatens 18,000 other structures, according to Cal Fire. The fire has burned more than 234,000 acres — more than 365 square miles — and thousands of people were ordered to leave their homes.

Related: Billion-dollar climate disasters devastate and drain the nation

Several other large fires that were burning in Southern California have been largely contained. The Lilac fire in San Diego, which killed horses and destroyed 151 homes or other structures since it broke out on Thursday, burned 4,100 acres and was 92 percent contained, according to Cal Fire.

The Creek Fire in Los Angeles County near the community of Sylmar was 98 percent contained, and the Rye Fire near Santa Clarita north of Los Angeles was 96 percent contained as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire.

In the town of Summerland in Santa Barbara County, up the coast from Ventura, residents are under voluntary evacuation orders and some are staying, an employee at a local bar and restaurant said.

“It’s the worst I’ve ever seen it, and I just feel so bad because there’s so many displaced people,” Andrea Lionello, who works at The Nugget in Summerland, which is staying open, told NBC News on Tuesday.

She and her family are camping out at their in-laws. "But we're all in the same boat," Lionello said. "We just have to still keep plugging through and pushing through."

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