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As Blaze Rages, Precious Art Remains in 'Fireproof Fortress'

LA's J. Paul Getty Museum has its blaze-protecting fortifications in place
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2019 9:45 AM CDT
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The Getty Center is covered in smoke as the Getty Fire burns Monday in Los Angeles.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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(Newser) – A wildfire is raging on the property of the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, but don't fret about its masterpieces being turned to ash. The building is a "fireproof fortress" specifically designed to withstand natural disasters like earthquakes and wildfires, per the Guardian. The art is safest inside the museum situated on nearly 25 acres as "our buildings are stone, concrete and steel" and "the rooftops are stone, to prevent embers from landing and igniting," spokeswoman Lisa Lapin tells CNN. There's also a fancy air filtration system that pushes and pulls air, allowing officials to keep smoke away from the double-enclosed galleries, which are actually buildings inside of other thick-walled buildings. Extra layers of protection sit outside the galleries, which have now been sealed.

Beneath fire retardant plants is a sprinkler system connected to a million-gallon water tank. "We can use it for our own fire prevention," Lapin tells the Guardian, which reports firetrucks were "awaiting commands" in the museum's parking areas on Monday as the fire was "licking parts of remote canyons nearby." Perhaps sparked by a downed power pole, the Getty Fire has burned more than 618 acres, destroyed eight homes, and damaged six others, reports Bloomberg, which notes the evacuation area includes some of Los Angeles' wealthiest neighborhoods, in addition to the museum. "The good news is that the fire has not grown at all," Mayor Eric Garcetti said at a news conference Monday. However, dry winds are now expected across the region, per Bloomberg. (LeBron James was forced to flee.)

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