The Bobcat Fire has damaged or destroyed at least 115 homes and dozens other structures as it continues to burn through the Angeles National Forest after igniting nearly a month ago, officials said Saturday.
Firefighters have largely gained the upper hand on the blaze, which had burned 114,963 acres, or 179.6 square miles, and was 84% contained as of Saturday morning — up from 75% two days ago.
Aided by strong winds and insufficient firefighting resources, the Bobcat Fire advanced on the Antelope Valley foothills in mid-September, ripping a path of destruction along the way.
Completely destroyed are 87 homes and 83 other buildings. The fire has also damaged 28 more homes and another 19 structures. Many of the homes destroyed were in the Juniper Hills area.
“The number of damaged and destroyed buildings may rise as damage assessment teams continue to gather accurate data from properties spanning over 114,900+ acres,” officials said in the federal InciWeb page.
On Saturday, the fire was expected to mainly smolder in the hot areas but stay within its existing burn footprint, where crews planned to spend the day mopping up, patrolling and improving containment lines.
But at an interior island northeast of Mt. Wilson, a pocket of fire will continue to consume another 300 acres within the fire control lines in an area with steep, rugged terrain that has been difficult for firefighters to access.
“Heavy smoke may be visible during peak heat hours as this internal island of fuel burns,” fire officials said.
Crews will be patrolling the area and looking out for fire spotting and other alarming behavior in temperatures over 90 degrees and low humidities.
Firefighters struggled to contain the fast-moving fire early in the battle as flames tore through extremely dry and rugged brush, set trees ablaze and spotted along long ranges. But by late September, crews appeared to get a better handle on the flames.
The fire still threatens more homes.
Residents remain under evacuation orders in Paradise Springs, along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39, south and west of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon, east of Angeles Forest Highway and north of Angeles Crest Highway.
Others have been told to prepare in case they also have to evacuate. Those under evacuation warnings include residents south of Big Pines Highway, east of Largo Vista Road, west of 263rd Street E (County line) and north of the forest. As well as homes south of Mount Emma Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon, east of Angeles Forest Highway and west of Pacifico Mountain.
The East Fork areas of Julius Klein Conservation Camp 19, Camp Williams and the River Community are also under evacuation warnings.
The Red Cross evacuation centers at Palmdale High School and Santa Anita Park have both closed. Those still needing help can call 800-675-5799.