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Bobcat Fire: Blaze Grows To Over 112K Acres; Dozens Of Structures Destroyed Or Damaged

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Lights from a firetruck illuminate firefighters working the Bobcat Fire burning near Cedar Springs in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 21, 2020. Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images
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This story is no longer being updated. Follow our coverage of the Bobcat Fire for Wednesday, Sept. 23 >>

Yesterday's coverage:

The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest continues to burn into its 17th day. The blaze has grown aggressively in recent days, driven by strong wind gusts. As of Tuesday evening, the fire surpassed 112,000 acres. It's now been one of the largest wildfires in Los Angeles County history for several days.

Officials report that the fire remained very active today and continues to be driven by winds creating spot fires as far as one mile from the fire's multiple fronts.

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"All critical thresholds for large fire growth are being exceeded," according to the fire's online incident page.

Late Monday, Mt. Wilson was again under serious threat from the fire, after several successful efforts to hold the flames back. It's not yet clear if any structures were damaged or destroyed, though video streams from cameras mounted at the peak show just how close the fire burned overnight.

Residents near Camp Colby were ordered on Monday to evacuate as the western front of the blaze advanced toward them.

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.

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During a virtual community meeting Monday evening, a Los Angeles County Fire Department official said at least 29 structures had been damaged or destroyed. That number is expected to rise as damage assessment continues.

Fire officials said today they will continue work on a "defensive strategic firing operation" to create a buffer line between Mt. Wilson and Highway 2. With similar work to protect structures continuing on the other fire fronts. They said they expect fire behavior similar to yesterday.

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

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 112,993 acres
  • Containment: 17%
  • Structures destroyed/damaged: At least 29 (full damage assessment pending)
  • Resources deployed: 1,513 firefighters
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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.

Angeles National Forest officials said they expect similar fire conditions to what they experienced Monday. Wind is forecasted to blow east, then shift south later in the day.

"The defensive strategic firing operation to secure line between Mt. Wilson and Highway 2 will continue and should be completed today," officials wrote on the fire incident page today.

Forest officials said L.A. County residents shouldn't be surprised to see plumes of smoke and aircraft north of Mt. Wilson as crews remain hard at work.

To the west, crews are working to build containment lines north of Highway 2 to keep the fire in check and defend structures.

North in the Antelope Valley, firefighters continue to carve out containment lines and mop up hot spots.

In the northeastern section of the burn area, "crews will be looking for opportunities to construct line to stop any further spread to the east," officials said.

To the south and along the Highway 39 corridor, firefighters continue to patrol and mop up as needed.

EVACUATIONS

Mandatory

Emergency officials issued evacuation orders for residents in the following areas as of Monday afternoon:

  • Residences along Angeles Crest Hwy, between Angeles Forest Hwy and Hwy 39.
  • The unincorporated areas of Crystal Lake, East Fork of the San Gabriel River, and Camp Williams.
  • Communities of Pearblossom, Juniper Hills, Valyermo, and Llano. (Except for the Longview section, which is under a warning)
  • South and west of Upper Big Tujunga, east of Angeles Forest Hwy, and north of Angeles Crest Hwy.
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The Bobcat Fire burns in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 21, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Warnings

  • Pasadena and Altadena: north of Sierra Madre Bl., west of Michillinda Av, east of Washington Bl., north of New York Dr. and north of New York Drive & Woodbury Dr., east of Hahamongna Watershed Park.
  • Wrightwood.
  • Littlerock: South of Pearblossom Hwy, north of Weber Ranch Rd., east of Cheseboro Rd., and west of 87th St. East.
  • South of Hwy 2, north of Blue Ridge Truck Trail, east of Hwy 39, and west of the Los Angeles Co. border.
  • Longview: 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.

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.

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.

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A firefighter watches as the Bobcat Fire burns near Cedar Springs in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 21, 2020. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

CLOSURES

  • The Angeles National Forest remains closed through at least Sept. 24
  • All roads leading into San Gabriel Canyon
  • State Route 39 is closed from north of Azusa to State Route 2
  • State Route 2 is closed from Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road to Big Pines
  • Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road between State Route 2 and Angeles Forest Highway
  • Mt. Wilson Road from State Route 2 to Mt. Wilson
  • Chantry Flat Road
  • Fort Tejon / Valyermo Road
  • Valyermo Road / Bob's Gap Road
  • Big Pines Highway / Largo Vista Road
  • Big Pines Highway / Mescal Creek Road
  • Big Pines Highway / Highway 2

WEATHER AND AIR QUALITY

We're experiencing a cooling trend, which is projected to last through mid-week. Humidity and temperature is largely unchanged from Monday. 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.

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)

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.

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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