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Bobcat Fire: First Structure Claimed By The Flames; New Evacuation Orders

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The Bobcat Fire continues to burn through the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 17, 2020. (Kyle Grillot/AFP via Getty Images)

This story is no longer being actively updated. Get the latest news on the fire >>

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

The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest continues to grow in the firefight's 13th day.

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The flames have been rapidly spreading north, prompting new evacuation orders and warnings for communities in the Angeles National Forest and foothills near the High Desert.

This afternoon, fire officials reported the fire was "making a hard push" into the Valyermo area, fueled by winds exceeding 30 mph. Hand crews and aircraft are working to slow the spread.

They're also warning that firefighters are doing "all they can to reduce the fire spread" in the Juniper Hills area — but according to ABC7, the Bobcat Fire has claimed its first structure, and more homes are likely building in the area.

At the start of today's firefight, authorities said their "primary focus will be to respond to and address the threats to the communities on the north end of the fire. A combination of air and ground resources will work at halting the fire’s forward progress while having structure protection in place."

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

THE BASICS [As of late Friday, Sept. 18]

  • Acreage: 72,757 acres
  • Containment: 15%
  • Resources deployed: 1,663 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.

The blaze jumped Highway 2 earlier in the week and continues to rapidly advance north, threatening communities in the northern foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. Firefighters shifted resources there and are working to keep the fire south of Pearblossom after it reached Juniper Hills Thursday.

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To the east, flames pushed downhill toward the San Gabriel Reservoir, leading to a new evacuation order for the San Gabriel Canyon area.

To the south, crews are mopping up and continue to patrol foothill communities.

Firefighters also continued to defend Mt. Wilson Observatory overnight as flames continued to threaten the facility. Hand crews and fire engines were used to protect the buildings, and firefighters set back fires to expand containment lines around the science station.

Cameras live-streaming from the peak showed just how close the fire got to the observatory, which is arguably one of the world's most important spots for scientific discovery.

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Forest officials said Friday morning that the observatory is "still safe" and firefighters are focusing their efforts on the northern perimeter of the fire.

EVACUATIONS

Mandatory

Emergency officials issued evacuation orders for residents in the following areas:

  • North of Angeles Crest North and between Clear Creek Station and Highway 39
  • Juniper Hills
  • Devils Punchbowl
  • Paradise Springs
  • Area east of Devils Punch Bowl Road, south of the Big Pines Highway, north of the Big Rock Creek, and west of Jackson Lake
  • All areas east of Highway 39, South of East Fork Road, west of Glendora Mountain Road and north of Glendora Ridge Road

NEW:

  • South of Pearblossom Hwy, north of Big Pines Hwy, west of Largo Vista Rd, east of 165th St East
  • South of Fort Tejon Rd. west of Longview Rd, North of Colley Pl, and east of 89th St East
  • South of East Ave W-14, eest of 165th St East, north of Tumbleweed Rd, & east of Longview 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."

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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)

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 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.

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

The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory through Saturday afternoon as unhealthy air continues to blanket much of the L.A. Basin and Inland Empire. It's not just local fires though; smoke is also making its way to us from wildfires in Northern California, Oregon and Washington.

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

ABOUT MT. WILSON

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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

Ryan Fonseca and Mike Roe are gathering updates on the fire.

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

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