Bobcat Fire: Now More Than 19K Acres, Evacuation Warnings Remain In Place For Foothill Communities
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Evacuation warnings remain in place for several cities and communities in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains as firefighters continued to battle the Bobcat Fire, which broke out Sunday above the city of Azusa and quickly spread into the Angeles National Forest.
Here's what we know so far today:
- Acreage: 19,796 acres
- Containment: 0%
- Resources Deployed: 652 firefighters on scene, including 35 engines, 19 hand crews, two helicopter and two planes
The brush fire erupted 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.
Firefighters' goal for today was to keep the blaze west of Highway 39, east of Mt. Wilson, north of foothill communities and south of the Angeles Crest Highway, according to the incident action report. In an evening update, fire officials reported the goal to keep it from crossing the highway had fallen short:
"The fire made a big push today, as the offshore winds pushed the fire to the east and crossed Hwy 39."
Although conditions were poor earlier in the day for aircraft, later the smoke lifted and "two air tankers, including a DC-10, were able to make several drops of fire retardant on the southwest portion of the fire." The fire fight was bolstered late in the day by two more "hotshot crews" and another helicopter.
The Angeles National Forest is closed to the public through Monday, Sept. 14, officials said. State Route 39 is closed at Old Gabriel Canyon Road, as is State Route 2 east of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road To Islip Saddle.
This map from L.A. County shows the burn zone and where evacuation warnings have been issued.
EVACUATION WARNINGS EXPANDED
Shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, the evacuation warnings were expanded to include residents living in the following foothill cities and communities:
- Arcadia (residents can call 626-574-5463 for more information on impacted areas)
- Sierra Madre (residents can call 626-355-1414 for more information on impacted areas)
"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. Please make those arrangements now."
Those warnings remain in effect today, and a fire official said it's up to the individual city or county governments to rescind them.
Update: At approx. 5:30 p.m., evacuation orders were lifted for Arcadia residents north of Foothill Boulevard and east of Santa Anita Boulevard.
Officials say the fire has "generally progressed away from the city of Arcadia.''
According to L.A. County officials, a shelter area for horses has been established at the Pomona Fairplex (entrance at Gate 12).
Yesterday, the L.A. chapter of the American Red Cross opened an evacuation shelter at Santa Anita Park, which remains open today.
A Red Flag Warning is in effect throughout much of Los Angeles and Ventura counties today, and may be extended into Thursday for some areas.
The Santa Ana wind event we've been sounding the alarm about didn't quite materialize this morning, but winds have started picking up as of Wednesday afternoon.
The winds are expected to shift north later today and fan flames away from foothill communities to the south.
#SantaAnaWinds impacting the #BobcatFire today with increased fire intensity detected on #GOES17 & SCE webcams showing a taller smoke plume. The other red spot to the east is the #ElDoradoFire in SB County. Red flag in effect until 8pm. Weak offshore winds thru Thu morning. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/m4oTcQ3xuS— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) September 9, 2020
Expect higher than normal temperatures through the end of the week and the weekend, but nothing like we experienced on Sunday.
Look up the latest air quality info for your area at airnow.gov.
Smoke advisories have been extended to Thursday Sept. 10.
ABOUT MT. WILSON
The Mount 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.
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.
A RECORD FIRE SEASON
If it feels like the fires are worse this year, it's because they are.
According to Cal Fire, more acres in the state have burned in 2020, than any other year in over the past three decades (since statewide figures have been tracked).
And we have three more months to go.
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
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