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El Dorado Fire Continues For 15th Day, Stays Steady At More Than 22K Acres Burned

Updated
Published
A view of the smoke from the El Dorado fire on Friday afternoon. (Courtesy U.S. Forest Service)

This story is no longer being actively updated. Get our latest reporting on the El Dorado fire >>

Jump to: Basics | Evacuations | Closures | Air Quality | Additional Resources

The El Dorado fire continues to burn in the San Bernardino National Forest, forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes in mountain communities.

The fire became deadly this week when a firefighter died after going missing while fighting the fire in the Pinezanita area on Thursday.

The victim, whose name has not been released, was reportedly a member of a "hotshot" team. His body was located during a search. U.S. Forest Service officials said his cause of death is under investigation and more details will be made available as they work to confirm what happened.

On Saturday, fire officials reported crews were able to "aggressively hold and improve" fire conditions along Highway 38.

Here's what we know about the blaze so far today:

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 22,439
  • Containment: 59%
  • Structures destroyed: 4 homes, 6 other structures
  • Structures damaged: 2 homes, 4 other structures
  • Residences evacuated: 3,467
  • Structures threatened: 26,031
  • Personnel: 1,232 firefighters
  • Deaths: one firefighter killed
  • Injuries: 12

The El Dorado Fire began on Saturday, September 5, with a bang — literally — when a firework from a gender reveal party in Yucaipa ignited a blaze that has threatened thousands of homes and caused the mandatory evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.

EVACUATIONS

Mandatory evacuations remain in effect for the following communities (detailed map here):

  • Angelus Oaks
  • Seven Oaks
  • Barton Flats / Jenks Lake Area east to Onyx Summit

A Red Cross evacuation center is open at the Redlands East Valley High School, 31000 E. Colton Ave.

On Friday, evacuation orders were lifted for the communities of Mountain Home Village and Forest Falls, though both are still under an evacuation warning. A community meeting for residents there took place at 4 p.m. on Friday

Big Bear residents are not currently under any evacuation warnings or orders, but local officials there have issued a fire advisory, asking residents "to closely monitor the El Dorado Fire, and take appropriate precautions based on your individual circumstances."

CLOSURES

CalFire Captain Fernando Herrera in his SUV along Highway 38 during the El Dorado Fire. (Sharon McNary/LAist)

Highway 38 remains closed between Bryant Street and Lake Williams Drive.

The San Bernardino National Forest remains closed through Sept. 21 — along with all other national forests in California.

AIR QUALITY

Look up the latest air quality info for your area at airnow.gov.

CAUSE AND POSSIBLE CHARGES

The family behind the party where authorities say a pyrotechnic device was set off tried to put out the fire and called 911, but it was too late. They have cooperated with authorities, but Cal Fire spokesperson Captain Bennett Malloy says it's possible they could face misdemeanor charges:

"Some of the laws they could have broken: a public resource code where you cause a fire on somebody else's land, or, in California under a penal code, there's provisions for what's called recklessly causing a fire. And that may be the case with this fire, but that would be up to the district attorney to determine."

Prosecutors could pursue felony charges if someone is hurt or killed, or if homes are damaged by the fire, though no charges had been filed yet.

As of Friday, Sept. 18, one person has died, a dozen others have been injured and several homes and other structures have been destroyed or damaged.

Irvine attorney William Weinberg, who has defended people accused of setting wildland fires, says possible charges include homicide and manslaughter. Weinberg said it all depends on how much knowledge the person had about the fire risk of their actions.

He noted that a criminal sentence could force repayment of millions of dollars in restitution, forcing the person into bankruptcy. On top of that, the people who lost homes and property can file civil lawsuits of their own.

Charges against people accused of starting wildfires can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the fire and which agency is doing the charging.

For example, in January 2014, three men faced felony charges after a campfire they started to keep warm in the Angeles National Forest grew out of control. That was the beginning of the Colby Fire, which burned about 2,000 acres and destroyed several homes in Glendora. Two of those men were later sentenced to several months in federal prison.

Going further back, a man convicted of intentionally starting the Old Fire in 2003 was sentenced to death. Five people died of heart attacks as that blaze spread in the San Bernardino Mountains, burning some 90,000 acres and destroying more than 1,000 structures.

HOW WE’RE REPORTING ON THIS

This is a developing story. We fact check everything and rely only on information from credible sources (think fire, police, government officials and reporters on the ground). Sometimes, however, we make mistakes and/or initial reports turn out to be wrong. In all cases, we strive to bring you the most accurate information in real time and will update this story as new information becomes available.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, check the following websites and social media accounts:

FIRE RESOURCES

YOUR QUESTIONS OR IDEAS

Bobcat Fire: Urgent Evacuations Orders As Fire Burns Through Nearly 94K Acres

Updated
Published
A home burns as the sun sets behind smoke and flames during the Bobcat Fire on September 18 in Juniper Hills. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

This story is no longer being actively updated. Get our latest reporting on the Bobcat fire >>

Jump to: Basics | Evacuations | Air Quality | About Mt. Wilson | Additional Resources

The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest continues to grow in its 14th day and authorities are ordering anyone in mandatory evacuation zones to leave immediately.

The fire has grown aggressively in recent days. By this morning, more than 93,000 acres had burned. The rapid spread was driven by wind gusts of up to 44 mph that pushed the flames into the Antelope Valley.

At the same time fire officials issued new evacuation orders, they said others would be lifted. At 4 p.m., residents living in areas currently under mandatory evacuation in Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Duarte, and Bradbury were be allowed to return home.

The focus today has been on the northern side of the fire. In the morning update, officials said the fire "has spread north into foothills communities of Juniper Hills and Valyermo." They also warned that the fire was just miles from the communities of Big Pines and Wrightwood

WATCH THE MORNING BRIEFING

At a news conference last night, L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby noted that many fires this year, including the Bobcat, have been very dangerous:

"The fire behavior that we're getting in this fire and throughout the state of California is unprecedented. It's very important that when your local law enforcement comes through or your local firefighters come through, please make sure that you evacuate."

Evacuation orders are in place for parts of the Antelope Valley and northern Angeles National Forest.

The National Weather Service continues to report "elevated fire weather conditions," adding wind gusts this afternoon into evening could reach 25 to 35 mph — and get above 40 mph in the foothills.

Here's what else we know about the fire so far today.

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 93,842 acres
  • Containment: 15%
  • Resources deployed: 1,686 firefighters

The fire erupted on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and then spread rapidly amid an intense, record-breaking heat wave, prompting evacuation orders for Mt. Wilson Observatory. The cause is under investigation.

EVACUATIONS

Mandatory

Emergency officials issued evacuation orders for residents in the following areas as of 6:15 a.m. Saturday:

  • North of Angeles Crest North and between Clear Creek Station and Hwy 39.

  • Including the area East of Devils Punch Bowl Rd, South of the Big Pines Hwy, North of the Big Rock Creek, and West of Jackson Lake.

  • Aqueduct: South of Pearblossom Hwy (SR138), North of Big Pines, East of 165th and West of Largo Vista Rd.

  • Ward: North of Fort Tejon Rd, south of Avenue V, east of 87th E., west of 121 St East.

  • Longview: South of Avenue 12, north of Aqueduct, west of 165 St E and east of 121 St East.

  • Tejon: South of Fort Tejon Rd, north of Cooley Place, east of 89th St. East and west of Longview Rd.

  • Peach: North of Pallett Creek, south of W. 114th St., east of Longview Rd and west of 165th St.

  • Cima Block: 96th east to 116th St. E/Fort Tejon Rd south to SR 2

  • Juniper Block: 116th E to Devis Punchbowl Rd / Fort Tejor Rd to SR 2

  • Punchbowl Block: Devils Punchbowl Rd to and including Fenner Camp

  • Paradise Block: Fenner Camp to intersection of SR 2 and Big Pines

  • Chilao

  • CalTrans Yard

  • 3 Points area

  • Angeles Crest Christian Camp

  • Crystal Lake area

Warnings

  • South of Pearblosson Hwy
  • East and north of Angeles Forest Hwy
  • North and west of Mt. Emma
  • East and south of Hwy 122
  • West of Cheseboro Rd.

"Residents in these areas should quickly gather their families and pets and head to your preplanned location outside of the fire evacuation zones," forest officials wrote on the fire incident page. "Residents must take these necessary steps to ensure your family’s safety. Delaying evacuation will prevent fire crews from suppression activities and compromise the safety of the public and first responders."

This public information map was published Saturday morning by the U.S. Forest Service:

(Courtesy U.S. Forest Service)

Warnings

The mountain town of Wrightwood has been issued an evacuation warning.

Warnings also remain in effect for communities along the southern foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains:

  • Monrovia
  • Arcadia
  • Sierra Madre
  • Bradbury
  • Duarte
  • Pasadena
  • Altadena
  • Residents north of Foothill Blvd. and east of Santa Anita Ave.

"Residents should have evacuation plans in place, organize their emergency evacuation supplies, and have essential evacuation personal belongings easily accessible," U.S. Forest Service officials wrote on the fire incident page. "Vehicles should be fully fueled, facing out in their driveways and ready to leave."

Earlier evacuation orders for some residents in Arcadia and the adjacent city of Sierra Madre were lifted Wednesday afternoon.

Evacuation orders have been lifted for residents in the East Fork area, which includes Camp Williams and the River Community Center. Residents returning to their homes were advised to use Glendora Mountain Road, as State Route 39 remains closed.

A firefighting aircraft drops the fire retardant Phos-Chek as the Bobcat Fire threatens nearby homes on Sept. 17, 2020 in Juniper Hills. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

SHELTER SITES

The Red Cross has established a temporary evaction point at Palmdale High School, 2137 East Avenue R. Accomodations for 300 large animals are available at the Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, 2551 W. Avenue H, Lancaster.

L.A. County officials said a shelter site for horses has been established at the Pomona Fairplex (entry at Gate 12).

CLOSURES

  • The Angeles National Forest remains closed through Sept. 21 — along with all other national forests in California
  • State Route 39 is closed at Old Gabriel Canyon Road to State Route 2
  • State Route 2 is closed from Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road to Big Pines
  • Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road
  • Mt. Wilson Road
  • Glendora Mountain Road
  • Glendora Ridge Road

AIR QUALITY

Look up the latest air quality info for your area at airnow.gov.

ABOUT MT. WILSON

Firefighters on duty to protect Mt. Wilson Observatory and nearby broadcast towers as the Bobcat Fire burns in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 17, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

The Mt. Wilson Observatory houses 18 telescopes, many of which were used to make some of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the last century. They include the 100 inch Hooker telescope that Edwin Hubble used in the 1920s to prove that our universe is still expanding.

Crews have been prepping structures near Mount Wilson. Retardant is also being placed around it.

Observatory Director Tom Meneghini said he's afraid they could be seriously impacted if the fire gets close enough.

"The heat can do irreparable damage. Our two big telescopes are historically significant and irreplaceable,” Meneghini said.

However, he said fires have gotten close before and the decades-old firefighting setup at the Observatory is ready to be used again. "We have an inground system of hoses and pumps," he said.

"We have half a million gallons of water ready to pump so that’s all been prepared for any fire professional to come in and take over."

The fire also threatens a seismic station that has recorded earthquake activity for 100 years, seismologist Lucy Jones said via Twitter.

Numerous television and radio stations have transmitters in the area, including our newsroom which broadcasts on the radio at 89.3 KPCC.

HOW WE’RE REPORTING ON THIS

This is a developing story. We fact check everything and rely only on information from credible sources (think fire, police, government officials and reporters on the ground). Sometimes, however, we make mistakes and/or initial reports turn out to be wrong. In all cases, we strive to bring you the most accurate information in real time and will update this story as new information becomes available.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, check the following websites and social media accounts:

FIRE RESOURCES

YOUR QUESTIONS OR IDEAS

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Saturday Briefing: The Week’s Difficult End

Updated
Published
Mourners outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. left tributes to Ruth Bader Ginsburg (Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Never miss a morning briefing. Subscribe today to get our A.M. newsletter delivered to your inbox.

Good morning, L.A.

As the week came to a close, we heard two pieces of devastating news. The El Dorado fire claimed the life of a local firefighter, and legendary Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87, from complications of pancreatic cancer.

The firefighter’s name and cause of death haven’t been released yet, but he was reportedly a member of a "hotshot" team battling the blaze in the Pinezanita area.

Ginsburg reportedly died at her home in Washington surrounded by family. Her death leaves a yawning void in the Court’s liberal wing. Just days before, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter: "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed."

In other, more celebratory news, this weekend also marks the beginning of the Jewish New Year. For those who don’t celebrate (I do), the high holidays are considered a time to reflect on the past year, make amends where need be, and consider how to do better in the year to come.

Seems like it's here at a particularly relevant time.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


The Past 24 Hours In LA

Earthquake: A quake with a preliminary magnitude of 4.5 jolted a wide swath of L.A. late Friday night.

Wildfires: A firefighter died while battling the El Dorado fire, which — as of Friday night — has burned 21,678 acres in the San Bernardino forest, and is at 66% containment. The Bobcat fire has burned 60,557 acres of the Angeles National Forest, and is at 15% containment.

Money Matters: California’s unemployment rate dropped to 11.4% in August. The $750-million expansion of LACMA won't open for four years, but the organization is sharing renderings of its curvy, low new galleries that will be framed with floor-to-ceiling glass.

Reflections And Broadcasts: Contributor Jervey Tervalon reflects on his childhood in Jefferson Park, and the teachers who could have decided his future. At the Emmys this Sunday, the TV industry will attempt to pull off the first big awards event of the COVID era as a live, global broadcast.

Final Farewells: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who became a legal, cultural and feminist icon in her 80s, died Friday.


Weekend Reads

There's a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s hard enough to keep up with our day-to-day lives, let alone to stay current on the news. But if you have some time this weekend, these articles provide some much-needed insight into the current moment in L.A., as well as some news you may have missed:

Cooling Centers: During the recent blistering heat, fewer than 300 people made use of six cooling centers set up by the city of L.A. And one cooling center in South L.A. had no visitors. Advocates say the issue is not a lack of need. (Los Angeles Times)

L.A. County will pay a $5 million settlement to the family of two boys, ages seven and nine, who were struck and killed by a Sheriff’s deputy’s patrol car. The deputy was later found to have been at fault, but never faced charges. (Boyle Heights Beat)

Expungement can mean the difference between steady employment and an unstable financial situation for some Latino/a families. (San Fernando Sun)

The Beverly Hills Police Department confiscated 129 fraudulent EDD cards after arresting 44 people for fraud and identity theft. (Beverly Hills Courier)

The recipe for Toma’s Micheviche (michelada+ceviche) has been made public. (LA Taco)

Chateau Marmont employees allege that the hotel is rife with racial discrimination, sexual misconduct, neglect and more. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Enrollment forms for LAUSD students and their families now offer 226 choices for race, ethnicity and cultural heritage. (Los Feliz Ledger)

Harry Gamboa, Jr. is a legendary East L.A. artist who came of age during the Chicano movement. (The Eastsider)

Get to know some of the protesters who are calling for justice for Dijon Kizzee. (Los Angeleno)


Photo Of The Day

A rendering of the new David Geffen Galleries at LACMA as they’ll appear once completed, looking west down Wilshire Blvd.

(Courtesy of Atelier Peter Zumthor & Partner/The Boundary)

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The news cycle moves fast. Some stories don't pan out. Others get added. Consider this today's first draft, and check LAist.com for updates on these stories and more. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This post has been updated to reflect changes in what's coming up for today.


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