Bobcat Fire burns more than 100,000 acres, threatening remote communities of Antelope Valley

Local news

The wildfire that exploded two weeks ago just above Azusa in the sprawling Angeles National Forest topped 100,000 acres Sunday while still remaining just 15% contained, authorities said.

More than 1,700 firefighters continue to battle the Bobcat Fire, which has burned 103,135 acres and continues to threaten homes in the Antelope Valley, according to an 8 p.m. update Sunday from federal forest officials and local fire authorities. Footage shows the blaze destroying a few homes.

Firefighters made progress on holding containment lines to the south in the San Gabriel Valley and managed to protect the Mount Wilson Observatory from flareups overnight, the U.S. Forest Service said. On Sunday afternoon, crews in Arcadia had to extinguish another flareup that sent smoke billowing over the Chantry Road area.

They continue to work to protect homes north of the wildfire, building and strengthening containment lines there, according to fire officials. Meanwhile, during the evening, the wildfire picked up in the area north of Mt. Wilson as it moved toward Highway 2.

Wind-driven flames burned more heavily to the north, in the Antelope Valley’s remote communities, where they’ve engulfed an unknown number of structures.

The blaze has destroyed the nature center at Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, a geological attraction that draws some 130,000 visitors every year, according to the L.A. Department of Parks and Recreation.

“Remarkably, the Wildlife Sanctuary staff office appears to have survived, with several pinyon pines, junipers and manzanita trees surrounding the park area,” the department said in a Facebook post. “May this serve as a beacon of hope.”

Officials have not reported any injuries.

Temperatures were slightly cooler by just 2 to 4 degree Sunday than they were Saturday, according to federal forest officials. Still, officials said fire-prone weather of high heat and low humidity would further spread the flames. And it did — the wildfire grew by nearly 4,000 acres Sunday.

“Weather will fuel [Bobcat Fire] growth today,” Angeles National Forest officials said on Twitter, adding that crews will work on protecting structures in affected communities.

Conditions will warm and dry up midweek, authorities said.

The fire’s movement entering the weekend triggered evacuation orders in the areas of Juniper Hills, Valyermo and Big Rock Springs just as evacuation warnings were lifted for Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Duarte and Bradbury. A full list of mandatory evacuations and warnings is shown here.

“My horses are the ones actually in danger. We had to take them out,” Littlerock resident Cenovio Ascencio told KTLA. “I feel sorry for all the people going through this right now.”

The Forest Service urged the public to follow the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department on Twitter for information on evacuations.

The Bobcat Fire is now one of L.A. County’s largest fires ever, the L.A. Times reported.

The biggest blaze recorded in the region, the Station Fire, charred 160,000 acres in the same area of the Angeles National Forest in 2009. That fire laid waste to more than 200 structures and killed two firefighters, according to the paper.

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