Aerial video footage showed tall flames raging along a ridge-line at the edge of a community, burning perilously close to several homes as authorities urged residents to flee.
Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said that winds were relatively light, giving firefighting teams at least one advantage, because there was less chance of burning embers being spread ahead of the flames.
Large, repeated water drops from firefighting helicopters appeared to be keeping the fire mostly at bay from the neighborhood.
No injuries were reported.
The blaze in Pacific Palisades, located between Santa Monica and Malibu about 18 miles (29 km) west of downtown Los Angeles, came about two weeks after a major wind-driven wildfire scorched nearly 8,000 acres along the northern edge of Los Angeles, damaging or destroying dozens of structures and prompting evacuations of some 23,000 homes.