Wildfires raging across Southern California have shut a major commuter artery in Los Angeles, suspended filming, wiped out more than $3 billion of market value for regional utility Edison International and are threatening some of the state’s lucrative crops.
Stretches of Interstate 405, which feeds major Los Angeles job centers, were shut as flames engulfed nearby mountainsides. Neighborhoods near the freeway and the famed Mulholland Drive, including parts of upscale Bel-Air, were evacuated. Snap Inc. shut operations, and a major conference on microcap stocks that was scheduled to be held in Los Angeles through Thursday was canceled. Ventura County, home to a third of California’s avocado acreage, has seen tens of thousands of acres consumed, and citrus growers have been affected.
The five wildfires come two months after the deadliest set of blazes in the state’s history broke out in Northern California’s wine country, racking up insured losses that top $9.4 billion. They’re striking as the House and Senate are working on a final version of sweeping tax legislation that currently would phase out the deduction for personal casualty losses, including those from wildfires and earthquakes.
Edison plunged the most in 15 years on speculation that its power lines may be blamed, saddling the utility with the costs of damages. Energy explorer California Resources Corp. has halted production at several small oil fields in Ventura County and northwest Los Angeles County. The stock slid 9.2 percent Wednesday.