Bobcat Fire: Blaze In Angeles National Forest Grows To Over 23K Acres, Containment At 6%
The Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest is throwing more smoke and ash into the skies above Southern California. The out-of-control fire, which broke out Sunday above the city of Azusa, more than doubled in size overnight.
Crews hope to take advantage of low winds forecasted for the next few days to draw some containment around the flames, and protect nearby foothill communities under evacuation warnings.
Incident command spokesman Micah Bell says it will be difficult to get back-up crews, because state and federal resources are also involved in multiple fires raging across the West Coast:
"Resources are definitely a limiting factor right now. You know, we don't have as many firefighters and aircraft as we normally would, because everybody's stretched thin."
Here's what we know so far today:
- Acreage: 23,890 acres
- Containment: 6%
- Resources Deployed: 532 personnel, 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' plan today was to keep the blaze west of Sheep Wilderness, east of Mt. Wilson, north of foothill communities, and south of Angeles Crest Highway. They said they hope to "take advantage of favorable wind conditions to focus on protecting the foothill communities."
Another factor in their favor: The fire's west side has run into an area that previously burned. That "old burn scar" is "creating less intense fire behavior for fire crews," according to officials.
Yesterday, one goal was to keep the flames west of Highway 39, but in an update Wednesday night, fire officials reported weather conditions thwarted those efforts:
"The fire made a big push today, as the offshore winds pushed the fire to the east and crossed Hwy 39."
- The Angeles National Forest — along with every other national forest in the state — is closed
- State Route 39 is closed at Old Gabriel Canyon Road
- State Route 2 east of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road to Islip Saddle is also closed.
Evacuation warnings currently include residents living in the following foothill cities and communities:
- 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."
A fire official said it's up to the individual city or county governments to rescind them, which was the case Wednesday with Arcadia after fire officials determined the fire had "generally progressed away from the city of Arcadia.''
As the fire continues to burn, the flames will remain visible, sometimes growing in size, & followed by a significant amount of smoke. Please note, the fire is burning at a high elevation with fuels that historically have not burned.— City of Monrovia (@MonroviaCA) September 11, 2020
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 closed at 6 p.m. today.
#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
At the scene of the fire today, authorities said they expect gusty northweast winds through midday and then a shift in the wind direction to south and southwest.
Expect higher than normal temperatures through the end of the week and the weekend, but nothing like we experienced on Sunday.
Smoke advisories have been extended through today as unhealthy air quality blankets much of the L.A. basin.
Look up the latest air quality info for your area at airnow.gov.
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
Brian Frank is gathering updated information about this fire, with additional feeds from reporters and producers. Earlier in the day Ryan Fonseca and Elina Shatkin updated the story.
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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