Firefighters making progress on massive Bobcat Fire - one of the largest in LA County history

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By KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO

Firefighters have made progress on the stubborn Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest.

Containment has grown to 17

Larry Smith, firefighter spokesman, and tells KNX there are two main areas of focus today.

The other area of focus is the northeast corner of the fire.

UPDATED EVACUATION ORDERS AND WARNINGS TODAY

Firefighters say there will be smoke plumes from back-fires north of Mount Wilson.

The Bobcat Fire is one of the largest in LA County history.

It's burned more than 109,000 acres.

Close to 30 buildings have been destroyed some of them homes when the fire climbed down the foothills of the high desert where evacuation orders are still in effect.

"On Friday, on the 18th, we incurred structure loss ... the fire came off of the Angeles National Forest down into the communities of Cima Mesa, Juniper Hills, Pearblossom, and Devil's Punchbowl," the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Vince Pena said Monday evening. "We're still currently aggressively assessing the damage from that."

Video of the fire showed bright orange flames in the rugged terrain around Mt. Wilson where it also threatens broadcast and cell phone towers.

Flames damaged or destroyed homes and cars in Juniper Hills on the north end of the blaze.  

People living in Sierra Madre though were happy the fire seemed to have skipped by them. 

Crews were still working to protect the Mt Wilson Observatory and the vital communications equipment on top of the mountain.   

MONDAY EVACUATION ORDERS AND WARNINGS:

• South and West of Upper Big Tujunga, East of Angeles Forest Hwy, North of Angeles Crest Hwy

• Residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.

• The unincorporated areas of Juniper Hills, Devils Punch Bowl, and Paradise Springs.

• The unincorporated areas of Crystal Lake, East Fork of the San Gabriel River, and Camp Williams.

• South of Hwy 138, North of Big Rock Creek, East of 87th St East, and West of Largo Vista Rd.

• South of 138th St. East, North of Big Pine Hwy and Hwy 2, East of Largo Vista Rd., and West of 263rd St. East. (Sand)

• South of Hwy 138, North of East Ave W-14, East of 155th St East, and West of 165th East. (Clear)

• South of Mt. Emma Rd., North of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Rd., East of Angeles Forest Highway, and West of Pacifico Mountain.

EVACUATION WARNINGS:

• City of Pasadena

• Unincorporated communities of Altadena and Wrightwood.

• South of Pearblossom Hwy, East and North of Angeles Forest Hwy, North and West of Mt. Emma Rd., East and South of Hwy 122, and West of Cheseboro Rd.

• South of Hwy 2, North of Blue Ridge Truck Trail, East of Hwy 39, and West of the Los Angeles Co. border. (Cardinal)

• South of Ave U-8, North of East Ave W-14, East of 121st East, and West of 155th St East. (Longview)

• 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. (Emma)

• South of Mt. Emma Rd., North of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Rd., East of Angeles Forest Highway, and West of Pacifico Mountain.

The mammoth Bobcat fire continues on its path of destruction, burning over 100,000 acres, burning homes, structures, and now a nature center, a geological attraction located in the Devil's Punchbowl area.

The 1,310-acre “geological wonder” that hosts some 130,000 visitors annually, the wind-driven fire spread to the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, according to the Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation.

“It was truly a gem of education for our youth and residents of the County,” the department told KTLA.

According to the incident page for the Bobcat fire on Sunday "Today’s priorities for work on the Bobcat Fire are to continue work on the control lines. These lines are being built in the northeastern and northwestern portions of the fire in order to stop the forward progression. Additionally, firefighters will continue to mop up and secure the areas around structures where the fire burned into Antelope Valley and Juniper Hills. We will also be looking for ways to secure the line between Mt. Wilson and Highway 2 to eliminate the threat to that area."

On Saturday LA County Sheriff's Department said "The Unified Incident Command Teams have issued an evacuation WARNING for the following area: South of Pearblossom Hwy, East and North of Angeles Forest Hwy, North and West of Mt. Emma Rd., East and South of Hwy 122, and West of Cheseboro Rd"

According to the incident page:

New Evacuation Order 1430 9/19/20:- South of 138th St East, North of Big Pines Hwy and Hwy 2, West of 263rd East, East of Largo Vista Rd.

Evacuation Orders

- North of Angeles Crest North and between Clear Creek Station and Hwy 39..

- Including the area East of Devils Punch Bowl Rd, South of the Big Pines Hwy, North of the Big Rock Creek, and West of Jackson Lake.

-Aqueduct - South of Pearblossom Hwy (SR138), North of Big Pines, East of 165th and West of Largo Vista Rd

-Ward- North of Fort Tejon Rd, South of Avenue V, East of 87th E., West of 121 St E.

-Longview-South of Avenue 12, North of Aqueduct, West of 165 St E and East of 121 St E.

-Tejon - South of Fort Tejon Rd, North of Cooley Place, East of 89th St. E. and West of Longview Rd.

-Peach - North of Pallett Creek, South of W. 114th St., East of Longview Rd and West of 165th St.

- Cima Block - 96th east to 116th St. E/Fort Tejon Rd south to SR 2

-Juniper Block- 116th E to Devis Punchbowl Rd / Fort Tejor Rd to SR 2

-Punchbowl Block - Devils Punchbowl Rd to and including Fenner Camp

-Paradise Block - Fenner Camp to intersection of SR 2 and Big Pines

-Chilao, the CalTrans Yard, the 3 Points area and the Angeles Crest Christian Camp were all issued Evacuation Orders Crystal Lake area remains under Evacuation Order.

On Friday, it's what firefighters and homeowners did not want to hear about the Bobcat Fire.

Homes are burning in Juniper Hills. That's not far from Little Rock and Pear Blossom in the high desert.

Firefighters are now focusing their efforts along the foothills of the Antelope Valley -- where the fire has split into three heads.

Additional evacuation orders have been issued forcing residents to leave their homes near Highway 39, south of East Fork Road, west of Glendora Mountain Road and north of Glendora Ridge Road.

There are NEW Evacuation Orders Friday afternoon:

Evacuation Order has been issued for the following areas: -South of Pearblossom Hwy -North of Big Pines Hwy -West of Largo Vista Rd. -East of 165th St East according to the LA County Sheriff's Department.

LA County Sheriff's Department also had more evacuation orders on Friday afternoon: "Evacuation Order has been issued for the following area: -Evacuation Order includes areas east of Hwy 39, south of East Fork Rd, west of GMR, and north of Glendora Ridge Rd."

The Department also tweeted late Friday afternoon more evacuations: "Evacuation Warning has been Issued for the following area: -South of East Ave V, North of Fort Tejon Rd, West of 121st East, East of 87th St, East. -South of East Ave U-12, North of East Av W-14, West of 165th St East, East of 121st East."

LA County Fire Captain David Dantic tells KNX firefighters are also hard at work to protect the Mount Wilson Observatory.

According to Angeles National Forest on Twitter "Crews are prepping structures near Mt. Wilson, & are ready to fire if needed. The fire has spotted west & is being held in check by air resources. Retardant is being placed around Mt. Wilson. The active firefight in the north continues with structure protection."

The fire has burned more than 60,000 acres. Containment is up from nine to 15 percent.

Firefighters are working on Friday to slow down the Bobcat Fire before it reaches some communities on the edge of the high desert.

An evacuation warning has been issued for Wrightwood.

LA County Fire Captain David Dantic tells KNX the stubborn fire continues to burn north-northeast which is where firefighters will put most of their focus.

Crews battling the 60,000-acre Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest have the fire now 15% contained. Firefighters are focused on protecting Mt. Wilson and the evacuated communities on the northern side of the fire.

Containing the fire around Mt. Wilson has been tough due to erratic winds pushing the fire around the peak from the south to the north and the fire could still make a run at the Observatory and Broadcast Towers.

In addition to more use of airpower on the Northern Edge of the fire, fire commanders could set up a base for resources on the North Side of the San Gabriel’s with firefighters and their logistical support a lot closer to the oncoming blaze they can fight it more effectively than before.

On Thursday afternoon there were more evacuation orders:

The Unified Incident Command Teams of the Angeles National Forest and the Los Angeles County Fire Department are ORDERING residents in the foothills North of the Bobcat Fire to evacuate, there continues to be rapid-fire growth. Be advised this is an EVACUATION ORDER. 

EVACUATION GEOGRAPHIC DETAILS:

The following areas are under an EVACUATION ORDER:

Juniper Hills

Devils Punchbowl

Paradise Springs

Including the area East of Devils Punch Bowl Rd, South of the Big Pines Hwy, North of the Big Rock Creek, and West of Jackson Lake

Residents in these areas should quickly gather their families and pets and head to your preplanned location outside of the fire evacuation zones. Residents must take these necessary steps to ensure your family’s safety. Delaying evacuation will prevent fire crews from suppression activities and compromise the safety of the public and first responders.

Juniper Hills residents south of Fort Trejon Road and east of 96th Street, as well as east and south of Valyermo Road and west of Bob's Gap Road, were told to pack and prepare to evacuate Wednesday night. However, evacuation orders were lifted Wednesday for residents north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia and portions of Sierra Madre.

As the Bobcat Fire recedes to the north, people in Arcadia who were subject to a mandatory evacuation order four days ago, returned to their homes Wednesday.

Days after the Bobcat Fire forced people to evacuate their homes in the northern reaches of Arcadia they are now moving back on Wednesday afternoon and resuming their lives.

Fire crews today are working to improve containment lines around the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest.

The stubborn fire has burned more than 44,000 acres and is still only 3% contained.

Air tankers have been ordered to try to slow a large spot fire north of Highway 2.

Firefighters have beaten back flames near Mount Wilson Observatory.

Mount Wilson Institute executive director Tom Meneghini says he's surprised so many people have recently viewed the webcams set up at the observatory.

The Bobcat Fire remains out of control, just three percent contained, with more than 44,000 acres burned. Fire commanders are tackling three problem areas today, with the more than 1,000 firefighters now assigned to the blaze.

Officials are fairly confident that the fire will not make another run towards Mt Wilson and they have engines and a half million gallons of water there to ensure the safety of the Observatory and Broadcast Towers.

When it comes to the northern reaches of Monrovia and the Sierra Madre, LA County Fire Captain Dave Dantic says thanks to minimal winds, the fire in each area remains a distance away and they will be upping their game on building containment lines.

On the northern edge of the fire,  firing out operations have worked fairly well, but a portion of the fire did jump the Angeles Crest highway and it is still moving north in dense fuel in terrain that is difficult to get crews in front of.

Some are already under mandatory evacuation orders, others are under evacuation warnings, and the Mt. Wilson Observatory is at risk on Tuesday.

There is an ongoing threat to communities north of the 210 freeway especially parts of Sierra Madre.

Meanwhile, LA County Supervisors have declared a local emergency because of the Bobcat Fire.Board chair Kathryn Barger says it’s an important step. The supervisors are asking Governor Newsom to also declare a state of emergency because of the fire.
The fire was moving "in the general direction of Mt. Wilson where it could possibly threaten the historic Observatory and broadcast towers worth over a billion-dollar," KNX 1070's Pete Demetriou tweeted about 10:15 p.m.

Firefighters have been battling the fire for the last ten days, and it grew 3,000 acres overnight and is not only 3% contained.

The Bobcat Fire is continuing to move in the Angeles National Forest as firefighters are working to protect homes and even the Mt. Wilson Observatory.

So far on Monday the fire remains at only 6 percent contained and burning 36,366 acres.

The Bobcat Fire has forced new evacuations from some San Gabriel foothill communities.

The City of Arcadia is ordering all residents north of Elkins Ave. and east of Santa Anita Ave. to evacuate due to dangerous wildfire conditions. Residents in the area are advised to use Santa Anita Ave. to leave the area.

A Red Cross evacuation center was established at Santa Anita Race Track, located at 285 W. Huntington Drive. Residents were advised to enter through Gate 5. More information about the center was available at 1-800-RED- CROSS (733-2767)

Evacuation warnings were in effect for Monrovia, Bradbury, Sierra Madre, Altadena, Duarte and Pasadena. An evacuation order was also issued for Camp Williams.

The blaze continues to burn downhill toward Monrovia and north toward State Route 2 in the Buckhorn area, with "significant" western growth towards Mt. Wilson, Angeles National Forest officials reported.

As wildfires continue to burn up and down the state President Trump will visit California Monday to see the damage for himself.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti was asked about the President's plans on CNN.  He says he's glad Mr. Trump is coming to see things firsthand, but it's not enough.
A smoke advisory remains in effect until Monday, in most of Los Angeles County and parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

"Fire crews will continue to focus on increasing containment lines along the south end of the fire to protect the foothill communities," officials said Saturday. "Local fire departments will continue to conduct structure protection within the foothill communities."

There are minimal winds, which means the Bobcat Fire is not expanding that quickly into the Angeles National Forest but it is still moving towards mountain resort communities while putting up a tremendous amount of smoke that makes it tough for everyone to breathe.

At over 40,000 acres, the fire is now larger than the city of Glendale and it’s still increasing to the north-north East.

Andrew Mitchell, a spokesman for the Angeles National Forest, says the fire is on the verge of Crossing the Angeles Crest Highway.

If the fire blows past the highway, the next community in danger is Crystal Lake and the Campground areas there.

There is another factor that makes the fight tough.

The SCAQMD says when air pollution levels hit 300 on their scale, the air is hazardous to breathe and people should not take part in physical activity at all.

The air quality level out here in the fire zone is now measured at 350.

A smoke advisory is in effect today in most of Los Angeles County and parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties due to a wildfire burning in the Angeles National Forest that has blackened 26,368 acres and is only 6% contained.

There may be lower temperatures and higher humidity in the area of the 24,000-acre Bobcat Fire but the fire officials say they are still a long way from even beginning to get a hard containment line around this blaze.

While camp crews and dozers keep cutting line and retardant dropping aircraft have put Phos -Chek on ridges in front of the flames, those areas have not been linked together.

As a result, the evacuation warnings for Duarte and Monrovia are still in effect.

LA County Fire Captain David Dantic says they don't want the public to be caught short if there is a dramatic shift in the fire's direction.

Commanders here are still hoping they will be able to bring aircraft and helicopters into the areas to hit hotspots and try and lock down the southern edge of the blaze but for the most part, those decisions are subject to the whims of the weather.

After daybreak on Friday morning, the U.S. Forest Service reported that three night-flying helicopters were deployed overnight, and crews kept the fire "in-check" on the southern edge of the fire.

The fire was moving in a northeasterly direction Thursday, and 540 firefighters were working to extinguish the flames, according to the Forest Service. No structural damage or injuries have been reported.

"The northern portion of the fire has reached up into ridges near Angeles Crest Highway where retardant drops have been made," the Forest Service said. "Steep terrain and dry fuels, some of which haven't burned in the last 60 years, will create challenges for crews.

On Friday morning, "areas south of the Bobcat fire along the I-210 corridor from Pasadena to Rancho Cucamonga will likely see the highest levels (of particulate matter) as smoke is likely to remain closer to the ground overnight," the South Coast Air Quality Management District advises, while on Friday afternoon, onshore winds are expected to move smoke east and northeast toward the San Gabriel Mountains, San Bernardino Mountains and San Bernardino Mountains.

"Priority is to contain the south end of the fire in anticipation of Santa Ana winds," the Forest Service reported.

Evacuation warnings remain in effect in the foothill communities of Duarte, Bradbury, Monrovia, Sierra Madre, Pasadena, Altadena and Arcadia.

A "voluntary evacuation suggestion" by the city of Arcadia for residents north of Foothill Boulevard and east of Santa Anita Avenue was lifted about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday by city officials, who said the fire had "generally progressed away from" Arcadia.

There's been a change in the winds and aircraft can now come in to help against the Bobcat Fire late Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier smoke was filling the skies for miles from the Bobcat fire burning into the Angeles National Forest above Monrovia.

On Wednesday, the Bobcat Fire is 11,456 acres with 0% containment.

Dense smoke from the massive Bobcat Fire is still covering the San Gabriel mountains and surrounding cities and the firefight is still somewhat limited because of the smoke and the inaccessible terrain.

Water dropping helicopters and planes have not been able to fly or even see the areas they would like to hit with their loads.

Micah Bell, Public Information Officer with the Incident Management Team, says the majority of the work on building containment lines and firebreaks has fallen to camp crews who are hiking into steep areas on foot.

When it comes to the weather it's a double-edged sword.

If and when Santa Ana Winds blow from the North northeast, it could send fire towards homes in the foothills but at the same time it could also clear the smoke that would allow airpower to finally get into this firefight.

The only good news about this fire is that it is burning very slowly and posing minimal risk to homes in the area.  

This morning is expected to be key in the fight against the Bobcat Fire with Santa Ana's gusting.

The flames are chewing through bone dry brush in the Angeles National Forest and residents living below the blaze in the foothills above the 210 freeway are still under evacuation warnings.

The Bobcat Fire has grown to more than 8,000 acres Tuesday afternoon with 0 percent containment.

"Residents are encouraged to remain prepared & alert. Monrovia FD and other local fire agencies will be actively patrolling neighborhoods and preparing defensive plans," City of Monrovia said on Twitter.

"There remains an Evacuation Warning, which means that residents in the foothill area below the Bobcat Fire must be ready to evacuate if an Evacuation Order is issued. Please continue to remain alert as Santa Ana winds are expected throughout the day," City of Monrovia said on Twitter.

On Tuesday KNX reporter Pete Demetriou reported "homes in northern Monrovia are either evacuated or have people taking final steps to prepare to leave if fire comes down canyons filled with dense brush. Some fire engines are already moving in to stage on certain streets."

The City of Monrovia tweeted there were two evacuation phases:

"The 1st phase will be all residents residing north of Hillcrest Blvd. and north of Greystone Ave. The 2nd phase will be all residents residing between Hillcrest Blvd. and Greystone Ave., south to Foothill Blvd."

With Santa Ana winds forecast for today and a red flag warning issued through Wednesday, U.S. Forest Service fire officials have put some Monrovia residents on notice that they may be ordered to evacuate if the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest spreads south.   

UPDATED EVACUATION INFO FOUND HERE: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7152

EVACUATION MAPS CAN BE FOUND HERE: https://www.cityofmonrovia.org/your-government/bobcat-fire

Monrovia city officials said the first phase of evacuations would affect all residents north of Hillcrest Boulevard and north of Greystone Avenue.

The Bobcat Fire had burned 4,871 acres and was 0% contained as of Monday evening after breaking out at 12:22 p.m. Sunday near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area of the forest.

The second phase would impact all residents between Hillcrest Boulevard and Greystone Avenue south to Foothill Boulevard.  

Residents under the warning were urged to have evacuation plans in place, organize their emergency evacuation supplies, and have essential evacuation personal belongings easily accessible.

Vehicles should be fully fueled, facing out in their driveways and ready to take people and pets to designated evacuation sites, or to family and friends' homes outside the fire area.

The USFS estimated the fire would not be fully contained until October 15.

Residents with large animals were urged to begin moving them to safety as accommodations are made at the Pomona Fairgrounds and Santa Anita Racetrack with limited capacity.

The U.S. Forest Service announced the closure of several national forests Monday due to ongoing fire danger across the state, including the Angeles National Forest. The closure went into effect at 5 p.m. and will be re-evaluated daily as conditions change.

 Other forests ordered closed were the San Bernardino National Forest, Cleveland National Forest, Los Padres National Forest, Inyo National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Sierra National Forest,and Stanislaus National Forest.

The Creek fire caused more than 200 people were airlifted to safety after a fast-moving wildfire trapped them in a popular camping area in California’s Sierra National Forest.

The California Office of Emergency Services said Black Hawk and Chinook helicopters were used for the rescues that began late Saturday and continued through the overnight. At least two people were severely injured and 10 more suffered moderate injuries.

The wildfire burning near Shaver Lake exploded to 56 square miles (145 square kilometers), jumped a river and cut off the only road into the Mammoth Pool Campground, national forest spokesman Dan Tune said. At least 2,000 structures were threatened in the area about 290 miles (467 kilometers) north of Los Angeles, where temperatures in the city’s San Fernando Valley reached 117 degrees (47 Celsius).

Tune said the campers were told to shelter in place until fire crews, aided by water-dropping aircraft, could gain access to the site.

CNS contributed reporting to this story. 

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