Amid more evacuations, Bobcat Fire burns over 72,000 acres while remaining at 15% containment

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Burning for a thirteenth day, the Bobcat Fire ripped through more than 72,000 acres in the Angeles National Forest by Friday evening, authorities said.

While remaining at 15% containment, the wildfire damaged structures in the Antelope Valley, particularly near Juniper Hills, throughout the day, fire officials said during a 6:30 p.m. news conference. They did not provide estimates or other details since they are still assessing losses.

“2020 has turned out to be the worst fire season,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby told reporters. He said five of the top 20 largest wildfires in recorded California history are burning right now.

The Bobcat Fire was very active Thursday on its northern perimeter, where it advanced on Juniper Hills and nearby communities, triggering more evacuation orders and a furious firefighting battle from the air with additional aviation assets called to help.

Crews had the blaze about 15% contained at 60,557 acres by Friday morning — up from 9% the night before. People in Juniper Hills, Devil’s Punchbowl and Paradise Springs have been ordered to flee.

During the evening, Osby said the wildfire grew to more than 72,000 acres with containment still at 15%. He said the it was difficult to stop the spread of flames along the fire’s northern edge near Antelope Valley due to strong winds.

“Unfortunately, we’ve had strong winds on the opposite side of the mountains,” he said, adding that winds were gusting up to 40 miles per hour.

“The fire has jumped the containment lines, and we currently have numerous firefighters and fire engines in that area, protecting those communities and Antelope Valley,” Osby said.

New evacuation orders were issued Friday for residents in the following areas:

  • North of East Avenue X, south of Pearblossom Highway, east of 155th Street East and west of 165th Street East
  • East of Highway 39, south of East Fork Road, west of Glendora Mountain Road and north of Glendora Ridge Road
  • South of Fort Tejon Road, west of Longview Road, north of Colley Place, and east of 89th Street East
  • South of East Ave W-14, west of 165th Street East, north of Tumbleweed Road and east of Longview Road

The flames threaten to progress further northwest and northeast Friday, sending firefighters on a mission to keep it south of Pearblossom.

On the west end of the fire, the plan was for crews to build fire lines to protect the area around Chilao.

Firefighters have been working to keep the flames from the historic Mt. Wilson Observatory, which was just a few hundred feet away from the fire. Flames in that area remained active Thursday.

The observatory has shared harrowing images of the wall of flames and ash pushing through the greenery outside. But on Friday evening, Osby said firefighters have managed to protect the area.

“Things are looking OK right now,” he said of the flames in that area.

To the east of the blaze, downslope winds have started pushing the fire eastward near the San Gabriel Reservoir.

Some 1,300 firefighters have converged on the Bobcat Fire, but officials are grappling with still limited, critically needed resources as the battle continues for nearly two weeks.

The fast-moving blaze has jumped highways and containment lines, torched trees and spotted long-rage across the forest as winds fanned it up slopes.

Crews have been slow to contain the blaze, hampered by Santa Ana wind events, dense smoke and active fire tearing through extremely dry brush, chaparral and tall grass in the steep, rugged terrain.

“Containment dates are dependent on resource availability,” fire officials said on the federal InciWeb page. Agencies across the state have reported limited resources.

Some slight cooling was anticipated for Friday, with Ridgetop southerly winds expected to be stronger than in the last few days, officials said.

Evacuation orders:

  • Juniper Hills
  • Devils Punchbowl
  • Paradise Springs
  • The area east of Devils Punch Bowl Road, south of the Big Pines Highway, north of the Big Rock Creek, and west of Jackson Lake.
  • North of Angeles Crest North and between Clear Creek Station and Highway 39.
  • Areas east of Highway 39, south of East Fork Road, west of Glendora Mountain Road and north of Glendora Ridge Road.
  • Areas south of Fort Tejon Road, west of Longview Road, north of Colley Place, and east of 89th Street East
  • Areas south of East Ave W-14, west of 165th Street East, north of Tumbleweed Road and east of Longview Road.
  • South of Avenue V, north of Fort Tejon Road, west of 121st Street East, east of 87th Street East

Evacuation warnings:

Evacuation warnings remain in effect for the foothill communities of Wrightwood, Monrovia, Bradbury, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Altadena, Duarte and Pasadena. Residents north of Foothill Boulevard and east of Santa Anita Avenue also remain under an evacuation warning.

Later Friday, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also announced warnings for the following areas:

  • South of Pearblossom Highway, north of Weber Ranch Road, west of 87th Street East and east of Chesebro Road
  • South of Big Pines Highway and Highway 2, north of Blueridge Truck Trail (NF-3N06), west of the Los Angeles/San Bernardino County border, east of Fenner Camp
  • South of 138th Street East, north of Big Pine Highway and Highway 2, west of 263rd Street East, of Largo Vista Road

A Red Cross evacuation center has been reopened at Palmdale High School, located at 2137 E. Avenue R, Palmdale, 93550.

The cause of the fire, which started Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area, remains under investigation.

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