Bobcat Fire: Fire Burns Through More Than 106K Acres; Flames Again Threaten Mt. Wilson
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The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest continues to burn into its 16th day. The blaze has grown aggressively in recent days, driven by strong wind gusts. The fire surpassed 100,000 acres over the weekend, making it one of the largest wildfires in Los Angeles County history, according to officials.
Late Monday, Mt. Wilson was again under serious threat from the fire, after several successful efforts to hold the flames back.
Earlier in the day, residents near Camp Colby were ordered to evacuate as the western front of the blaze advanced toward them. At an evening briefing, fire officials said the fire remained about two to three miles east of that area.
Firefighters are hard at work in the northern section of the fire, which has threatened homes and forced evacuations in the foothill communities bordering the Antelope Valley. Angeles National Forest officials say some homes have been lost, though a precise number was not given pending damage assessments.
Larry Smith is with the Bobcat Fire incident management team, and says it's too soon to report on damage done.
"We're still focusing all our resources on containment and control. But until we get this safe for our firefighters, and for the public to re-enter, there won't be damage assessments."
Smith also says critical water drops were delayed this afternoon, when a firefighting aircraft was grounded for about a half hour after a drone was spotted close to its take-off area.
The fire started the day "most active around Mt. Wilson, Chilao and Little Rock Creek," forest officials said. The plan for the day: "firefighters will work to slow westward spread using defensive strategic firing, line construction and aircraft drops."
To the east, officials said the blaze continues to threaten containment lines north of the Ranch 2 Fire, as well as Highway 39.
WATCH TONIGHT'S BRIEFING
Here's what else we know about the fire so far today.
- Acreage: 106,179 acres
- Containment: 13%
- Resources deployed: 1,513 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.
As our science reporter Jacob Margolis notes, the Bobcat Fire has been fueled by growth that hasb't burned in decades:
Emergency officials issued evacuation orders for residents in the following areas as of Monday afternoon:
- 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 west of 165th St. East.
- South and west of Upper Big Tujunga, east of Angeles Forest Hwy, north of Angeles Crest Hwy.
- 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.
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.
Shelter for small animals is available at Lancaster Animal Care Center, 5210 West Ave. I, and Palmdale Animal Care Center, 38550 Sierra Highway.
A shelter site for up to 300 horses and cattle has been established at the Pomona Fairplex, 2201 N. White Ave. Officials there can be reached at 909-576-9272.
- 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
WEATHER AND AIR QUALITY
A 1-hr time lapse of the Bobcat fire looking north from Mt Wilson. As of the last report fire was at 105,345 acres and 15% contained. Briefly critical winds and humidity expected at the fire today. Time lapse courtesy Southern California Edison. #CaWx #CAfires #BobcatFire pic.twitter.com/YsFjF9ShkY— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) September 21, 2020
We're experiencing a cooling trend, which is projected to last through mid-week. Humidity will be in the low teens today, though higher mountain areas could see drier conditions. Wind gusts are expected to be about 20 to 30 mph.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a smoke advisory for the region, which is in place through this afternoon. The impact from the Bobcat, El Dorado and Snow fires is creating unhealthy air quality across parts of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties.
Air Quality Forecast (Monday, September 21st): https://t.co/szsyGAFunD— South Coast AQMD (@SouthCoastAQMD) September 21, 2020
🏖 Coastal: Good -to- Moderate
🏙 LA: Moderate -to- Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
🌅 OC: Moderate
🌄 Inland Empire: Moderate -to- Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
🌴 Coachella Valley: Moderate pic.twitter.com/B49S7DDSp3
Look up the latest air quality info for your area at airnow.gov.
ABOUT MT. WILSON
In recent days, the fire was burning dangerously close to the facility, which is arguably one of the world's most important spots for scientific discovery. Firefighters have used a variety of tactics to protect the observatory, including carving out lines by hand and with bulldozers, setting strategic backfires and using aircraft to make water drops.
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.
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.
For the latest information straight from local emergency officials, check the following websites and social media accounts:
- Angeles National Forest Facebook
- Angeles National Forest Twitter
- Bobcat Fire incident website
- L.A. County emergency website
- Arcadia PD
- Arcadia Fire
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