The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest grew from 72,000 acres on Saturday to an estimated 99,428 acres Sunday with just 15% containment. That containment number has not moved since Wednesday as firefighters have struggled to contain the blaze. Officials warned that the flames would continue to spread from the Antelope Valley foothills into the communities of Juniper Hills, Valyermo and Big Pine.
The fire remained active overnight due to low humidity and high winds that drove it onto the valley floor. Spotting continues to present challenges, according to the U.S. Forest Service, but progress was reported on the south end of the fire in the San Gabriel Valley area.
A view of the #BobCat Fire from LAX Tower this afternoon. There was extreme fire behavior due to gusty sw winds with peak gusts 40-50 mph at higher ridges of the San Gabriel Mountains and in the 30s across the southern of the Antelope Valley foothills. #CAwx #SoCal #LAweather pic.twitter.com/zWCUrUVbFA
Structures have been damaged in the Antelope Valley, according to Vince Pena, unified incident commander with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The number of homes affected was not available.
Frank Kenton watched the firefighting planes zoom across the sky from his porch yesterday. It suddenly got "really red, like a bomb was going to blow … I just took off." When he came back, he saw hjs big barn, which held his late nephew's belongings, had burned to the ground. pic.twitter.com/iqsOA5re41
— Elizabeth Chou (@reporterliz) September 19, 2020
“Yesterday the fire was very active due to the very windy conditions, the fire reached Juniper Hills and the adjacent communities, homes were threatened and impacted,” the Forest Service said. “A strategic firing operation occurred to establish a secure line between the Ranch 2 Fire scar and Highway 39. Elsewhere on the fire crews had success improving and securing lines.”
The #BobcatFire is holding west of Hwy 39 from Crystal Lake to the San Gabriel Reservoir. Continued winds are pushing both the northwestern and southwestern edges with growth towards the west. Equipment and personnel continue to work to slow the spread of the fire. pic.twitter.com/hgNeAb4sTp
— Angeles_NF (@Angeles_NF) September 20, 2020
“Progress was made on holding containment lines on the south end of the fire. Heavy fire activity took place to the north end of the fire where crews worked on constructing indirect line from the north east coming to the south, as well as the north west coming to the south,” the Forest Service said.
“Dozerline is being constructed to cut the fire off, this work is starting at Camp Singing Pines heading north.”
A tanker drops fire retardant as the so-called Bobcat fire burns near Juniper Hills, California.
MARIO ANZUONI / REUTERS pic.twitter.com/tiFLb461pi
— LC Birkz (@BirkzLc) September 19, 2020
Sunday afternoon, the Angeles National Forest tweeted that the fire “is holding west of Hwy 39 from Crystal Lake to the San Gabriel Reservoir. Continued winds are pushing both the northwestern and southwestern edges with growth towards the west. Equipment and personnel continue to work to slow the spread of the fire.”
Weather will fuel #BobcatFire growth today. Firefighters, aircraft and bulldozers will work the perimeter of the fire. Firefighters will provide structure protection where fire impacts communities. Check inciweb for evacuation notices and full update at https://t.co/TTuONDlvrR. pic.twitter.com/BrbEQU9tZa
— Angeles_NF (@Angeles_NF) September 20, 2020
Evacuation orders were issued for residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39; the unincorporated areas of Juniper Hills, Devils Punch Bowl and Paradise Springs; unincorporated areas of Crystal Lake, East Fork of the San Gabriel River and Camp Williams; south of Highway 138, north of Big Rock Creek, east of 87th Street East and west of Largo Vista Road; south of 138th Street East, north of Big Pine Highway and Highway 2, east of Largo Vista Road and west of 263rd Street East; and south of Highway 138, north of East Avenue W 14, east of 155th Street East and West of 165th Street East.
On Saturday night, the unified fire command issued new evacuation orders for people living northwest of Mt. Emma, southeast of Highway 122 and west of Cheeseboro Road.
Los Angeles County parks officials said the Nature Center at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area was burned by the fire and is closed until further notice.
The following areas remained under evacuation warnings Sunday evening, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:
–South of Pearblossom Highway, east and north of Angeles Forest Highway, north and west of Mt. Emma Road, east and south of Highway 122, and west of Cheseboro Road
–South of Highway 2, north of Blue Ridge Truck Trail, east of Highway 39, and west of the Los Angeles County border
–South of Avenue U-8, north of East Avenue W-14, east of 121st East, and west of 155th Street East
–South of Pearblossom Highway, south and east of Pearblossom Highway, north and west of Mt. Emma Road, north and east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Cheseboro Road
–South of Mt. Emma Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Pacifico Mountain
On the fire’s southern end, evacuation warnings were lifted Saturday for the communities of Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Monrovia, Bradbury and Duarte in the San Gabriel Valley, while the warnings for Altadena and Pasadena remained in effect.
A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Palmdale High School in the Antelope Valley, while the earlier evacuation point at Santa Anita Park for those in the San Gabriel Valley was closed. Anyone still needing assistance was urged to call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-675-5799.
Officials urged residents to be alert for any additional evacuation orders or warnings. Lower temperatures were expected to aid the firefighting effort, however.
Officials said the fire continued to flare up around Mt. Wilson, home not only one of the crown jewels of astronomy but also home to infrastructure that transmits cellphone signals and television and radio broadcasts for the greater Los Angeles Area. Once again, though, firefighters were able to protect the area from any damage.
The Wrightwood area in San Bernardino County was also under an evacuation warning.
A total of 1,686 personnel are currently assigned to the fire. The Los Angeles Fire Department sent two strike teams under the mutual aid agreement to help fight the Bobcat Fire, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
A closure order has been issued for national forests in Southern California including the ANF.
Full containment of the fire is not expected until Oct. 30.
The Bobcat Fire erupted on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area northeast of Mount Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest. The cause remains under investigation.
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