Bobcat Fire: Blaze Grows To Over 26K Acres, Containment At 6%
The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest burned into its sixth day Friday.
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.
Here's what we know so far today:
- Acreage: 26,368 acres
- Containment: 6%
- Resources Deployed: 540 personnel
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.
Fire behavior remains very active today, and the blaze is burning in chaparral-dense areas that haven't burned in more than 60 years, according to officials.
L.A. County and U.S. Forest Service firefighting helicopters flew overnight to keep the southern edge of the blaze "in-check," Angeles National Forest officials said this morning.
Firefighters' plan today is to keep the fire north of homes in foothill communities, east of Mt. Wilson Observatory, south of Angeles Crest Highway and west of the Sheep Mountain Wilderness area.
- The Angeles National Forest — along with every other national forest in the state — has been 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:
- Monrovia (for residents north of Foothill Boulevard)
- Sierra Madre (residents can call 626-355-1414 to learn more about 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."
Images posted on social media Thursday night showed a zig-zagging line of flames burning in the mountains above Monrovia. City officials there assured residents that precautions had been taken to protect homes in the foothills.
"This fire is surrounded by defensible space, including dozer lines, and areas recently burned from fires such as the Station Fire, Madison Fire & Dam Fire," city officials wrote on Twitter. "The Bobcat Fire will likely burn for some time until it is fully contained."
According to L.A. County officials, a shelter area for horses has been established at the Pomona Fairplex (entrance at Gate 12).
An evacuation site at Santa Anita Park was closed Thursday, according to the local chapter of the American Red Cross.
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 Saturday as unhealthy air quality blankets much of the L.A. basin.
Look up the latest air quality info for your area at airnow.gov.
Air Quality Forecast (Friday, September 11th): https://t.co/szsyGAFunD— South Coast AQMD (@SouthCoastAQMD) September 11, 2020
🏖 Coastal: Moderate
🏙 LA: Moderate -to- Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
🌅 OC: Moderate
🌄 Inland Empire: Moderate -to- Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
🌴 Coachella Valley: Moderate pic.twitter.com/rVvSjOHkNY
And what's up with that orange glow we're seeing in SoCal skies? According to Phillip Fine, deputy executive officer for planning and rules with South Coast Air Quality Management District, that's largely due to the massive wildfires burning in Northern California and Oregon. Those blazes have created a smoke plume that's almost 1,000 miles wide, Fine said, but local air quality hasn't been as affected, he explained.
"A lot of that smoke is not making it down to ground level, thankfully, but that's why all over Southern California, we're seeing this eerie, orange glow... If you look at the air quality that they're experiencing up in Northern California and Oregon, it is much worse [than what] we're getting in Southern California and much more widespread, so we're somewhat fortunate we're not seeing those level of impact."
Our orange-tinged skies pale in comparison to the absolutely apocalyptic color pallete people in the Bay Area have experienced this week.
The poor air quality is also affecting COVID-19 testing in L.A. County. Officials announced today that several testing sites will be closed through the weekend due to the unhealthy air. The list includes:
- College of the Canyons
- East LA College
- Pomona Fairplex Gate 17
- San Gabriel Valley Airport
- Montebello Civic Center
- Panorama City
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.
HOW WE’RE REPORTING ON THIS
Ryan Fonseca is gathering updated information about this fire, with additional feeds from reporters and producers.
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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