California wildfires

A wildfire burns along the 101 Freeway in Ventura, Calif.

Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

Firefighters continued Wednesday to battle destructive blazes across Southern California, and flames exploded before dawn on the steep slopes of the east side of Sepulveda Pass, which carries heavily traveled Interstate 405 through the Santa Monica Mountains.

Hundreds of firefighters battled flames on the ground as aircraft dropped water and retardant near neighborhoods on the east side of the pass. Commuter traffic snarled in the pass and beyond.

The wildfire in Ventura County northwest of Los Angeles jumped the major artery U.S. Highway 101 to a rocky beach northwest of Ventura, bringing new evacuations, though officials said the sparse population and lack of vegetation in the area meant it was not overly dangerous, and the highway was not closed.

A dangerous new wildfire erupted in the tony Bel Air area of Los Angeles early Wednesday.