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El Dorado Fire: Containment Continues To Grow

Updated
Published
A tactical burning operation set to stem the El Dorado fire on Saturday. Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

This story is no longer being actively updated. Check for the latest via these agencies:

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

The El Dorado fire continues to burn in the San Bernardino National Forest for a 16th day.

On Sunday, fire officials reported better conditions and less fire activity but warned that "critically dry fuels still exist, and spot fires continue to occur."

A large rock and debris slide has closed Highway 38 between mile marker 16 and 17. Authorities said CalTrans will work to clear the slide on Monday.

The El Dorado fire turned deadly last 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: 22,576
  • 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: 1,190 firefighters
  • Deaths: one firefighter killed
  • Injuries: 13

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: The Massive Blaze Has Now Burned More than 103K Acres

Updated
Published
A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop as the Bobcat Fire continues to burn on September 19. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

This story is no longer being updated. Follow our coverage of the Bobcat Fire for Monday, Sept. 21>>

Yesterday's coverage:

The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest continues to grow in its 15th day. The fire has grown aggressively in recent days, driven by strong wind gusts.

Watch the evening update for Sunday:

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

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 103,135 acres
  • Containment: 15%
  • Resources deployed: 1,718 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 Sunday evening:

  • Residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.
  • The unincorporated areas of Juniper Hills, Devils Punch Bowl, and Paradise Springs.
  • The unincorporated areas of Crystal Lake, East Fork of the San Gabriel River, and Camp Williams.
  • South of Hwy 138, north of Big Rock Creek, East of 87th St East, and west of Largo Vista Rd.
  • South of 138th St. East, north of Big Pine Hwy and Hwy 2, east of Largo Vista Rd., and west of 263rd St. East.
  • South of Hwy 138, north of East Ave W-14, east of 155th St East, and 3est of 165th St. East.

Warnings

  • City of Pasadena

  • Unincorporated communities of Altadena and Wrightwood.

  • South of Pearblossom Hwy

  • East and north of Angeles Forest Hwy, north and west of Mt. Emma Rd., east and south of Hwy 122, and west of Cheseboro Rd.

  • South of Hwy 2, north of Blue Ridge Truck Trail, east of Hwy 39, and west of the Los Angeles Co. border.

  • South of Ave U-8, north of east Ave W-14, east of 121st East, and west of 155th St East.

  • South of Pearblossom Hwy (Hwy 138), south and east of Pearblossom Hwy (Hwy 122), north and west of Mt. Emma Rd., north and east of Angeles Forest Hwy, and west of Cheseboro Rd.

  • South of Mt. Emma Rd., north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Rd., east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Pacifico Mountain

"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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LA County Announces 991 New Cases Of COVID-19

Updated
Published
(Courtesy Los Angeles Department of Transportation)

L.A. County public health officials have confirmed 991 new cases of the coronavirus and 23 new deaths attributed to the disease. Of those new cases, 69% are among people between the ages of 30 and 49.

Today’s numbers bring the total in the county to 260,797 positive cases and 6,353 deaths.

Of the 23 deaths reported today:

  • Ten people were over the age of 80
  • Eight were between 65 and 79
  • Three were between 50 and 64
  • One was between 30 and 49

One death was reported by the City of Long Beach, and is not included in the above age breakdown.

Among all reported COVID-19-related fatalities in L.A. County, 92% had underlying health conditions. Information about race and ethnicity is available for 99% of people who have died:

  • 10% African American [9% of county residents]
  • 15% Asian [15.4% of county residents]
  • 51% Latino / Latina [48.6% of county residents]
  • 23% White [26.1% of county residents]
  • 1% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander [0.4% of county residents]
  • 1% identified as belonging to a different race or ethnicity

At the moment, 765 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in L.A. County, with 30% of those individuals in the ICU.

“As we prepare for the fall, we must acknowledge that COVID-19 remains a significant threat,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health. "The difference between now and the early months of the pandemic is that we have a much better idea of how to effectively protect each other from becoming infected … wearing face coverings, avoiding gatherings with people we don’t live with, washing our hands frequently, and keeping physical distance from others [are] effective tools that when used consistently, save lives.”

MORE ON CORONAVIRUS:

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