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Bobcat Fire: Blaze Grows Past 113K Acres; Containment Increases To 39%

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Firefighters undertook a defensive firing operation at Mount Wilson on Tuesday, Sept. 22 as the Bobcat Fire continued to burn in the San Gabriel Mountains. (Courtesy L.A. County Fire Department)
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This story is no longer being updated. Follow our coverage of the Bobcat Fire for Thursday, Sept. 24 >>

Yesterday's coverage:

The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest continued to burn into its 18th day on Wednesday. The blaze grew aggressively this week, driven by strong wind gusts, but firefighters were able to make huge gains on containment today, as those winds let down.

After surpassing 100,000 acres over the weekend, the Bobcat Fire is now one of the largest wildfires in Los Angeles County history.

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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.

At least 52 structures have been destroyed, according to L.A. County officials. That number is expected to rise as damage assessment continues.

Here's what else we know:

THE BASICS

  • Acreage: 113,733 acres
  • Containment: 39%
  • Structures destroyed/damaged: At least 52 (full damage assessment pending)
  • Resources deployed: 1,556 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.

Currently, forest officials project that they'll reach full containment on Oct. 30.

On Wednesday morning, forest officials said firefighters had finished a strategic firing operation to the north from Mt. Wilson to Highway 2, and east to burn zone.

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Forest officials say today's firefighting efforts will focus on the northeastern section of the fire along Highway 2 and the Antelope Valley.

"If crews determine that direct line is not feasible, they will be preparing for additional strategic firing along Highway 2 to stop fire movement northeast towards Wrightwood," officials wrote on the fire incident page.

To the northwest, crews will be building direct lines south from Littlerock and north from Highway 2.

North of Mt. Wilson, firefighters will work to strengthen containment lines, and officials warned that residents in the foothills may see more smoke toda "as the interior burns out and aerial ignition may be used to help this process along."

The southern and lower eastern area of the fire perimeter remains in patrol status.

EVACUATIONS

Mandatory

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 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 Highway, and north of Angeles Crest Highway
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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

The weather today is expected to be warmer and drier than the past couple days, and conditions are projected to stay mostly the same Thursday and Friday. But beginning Saturday, forest officials say a "significant heat wave is expected with very low relative humidity," which will also bring the chance of gusty winds.

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

YOUR QUESTIONS OR IDEAS

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