In addition to the zoo, fire officials evacuated two golf courses, the Gene Autry Museum, the Griffith Observatory and the merry-go-round in the city's largest park, The Los Angeles Times reported. By late afternoon, more than 200 acres of the park had burned and Fire Chief Mario Rueda said the blaze was no more than 25 percent contained.
The flames came within 100 yards of the merry-go-round.
"It was a wall of fires," said LA Councilman Tom LaBonge. "It was overwhelming. It is going down in heavy, thick brush that hasn't burned in years ... . It hurts to see the beauty of the park get scraped down."
A 20-year-old man who suffered severe burns told firefighters he started the fire by accident. Sources told the Times that investigators believe matches were used to start the fire.
Keepers and maintenance workers remained at the zoo to keep an eye on the animals, which were reported to be doing well.