It's a city that's come to embody a lifestyle: sunglasses and convertibles, days at the beach, and nights on the town. Los Angeles has almost four million residents, making it the second largest city in America. And with its successful television, film, and music industries, many consider it the entertainment capital of the world.But while L.A. is steeped in star-studded glamour, many celebrities choose to get away from it all by living just a few minutes north, in the Santa Monica Mountains. There, you'll find the prestigious communities of Hollywood Hills and Bel-Air, where mansions and large, comfortable homes perch along winding mountain roads, providing sweeping views of the city below. These hilltop estates may offer a luxurious lifestyle, but along with the fresh air and the picturesque vistas comes danger, because this storied area is at great risk of being devastated by a wildfire.L.A.'s sunny Mediterranean climate means that the summers are long and dry. The hills are covered with drought-resistant vegetation called chaparral, which is extremely flammable. Even the unusual east-west layout of the mountains, the only such range to transverse a major city in the country, adds to the danger from fire. This topography means that the canyons betweens the mountains run north to south. When the harsh Santa Ana winds come from the north every fall, they funnel straight into those canyons and can quickly fan a spark into a devastating firestorm. All in all, it's a recipe for a fast-spreading wildfire.
©2007 The Weather Channel Inc.; (P)2007 The Weather Channel Inc.