Crews working day and night have gained better control over the destructive wildfire burning for a third week in the Angeles National Forest.
By Thursday morning, firefighters had the blaze 50% contained at 113,986 acres, or 178 square miles, according to the federal InciWeb page.
More than 1,600 firefighters have converged on the fire, but critically-needed firefighting resources are still limited, affecting how fast crews are able to contain the fire’s spread.
Aided by strong winds and insufficient firefighting resources, the Bobcat Fire advanced on the Antelope Valley foothills last week, ripping a path of destruction along the way.
The stubborn fire destroyed at least 52 structures, including many homes in the Juniper Hills area, according to a county estimate released Wednesday.
The fire is expected to continue spreading north in the foothill communities of Juniper Hills and Valyermo and towards Big Pine Thursday. Crews in the Antelope Valley will be securing fire lines and mopping up around structures.
Winds are expected to push flames down slopes, with the fire spotting forward, growing rapidly and threatening structures. “Community of Littlerock and Wrightwood will be impacted soon,” fire officials said Thursday morning.
Crews on the northeastern edge of the fire from Highway 2 to Big Rock Creek Road plan to set up a direct handline to battle the flames, or to prepare for another round of strategic firing operations — fighting “fire with fire,” Angeles National Forest officials said.
The wildfire has made an unprecedented wind-driven run through the forest, feeding on never-before burned, extremely dry brush and chaparral. Strategically setting intentional fires creates less fuels for the fire to consume.
That’s what firefighters did Wednesday, north of Mt. Wilson, where the flames continue to rage.
Crews will also set up handlines in the northwestern section of the fire, from Highway 2 to Little Rock Reservoir. “This is very steep and difficult country and it will take several days to accomplish this task,” fire officials said.
On the eastern side of the blaze, flames still threaten to jump containment lines north of the Ranch 2 scar area and in the Highway 39 corridor.
Fire activity on the northern side of the Mt. Wilson Observatory is threatening the Red Box Fire Station, Camp-Hi High School and Barley Flat on the northern side of Highway 2, according to fire officials.
A high pressure system will move in on Friday, starting a significant warming and drying trend — bringing near-record temperatures and very low humidity, fire officials said. On Saturday, forecasters expect gusty northeast winds.
Evacuation orders remain for nearby communities and a Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Palmdale High School, on 2137 E. Avenue R, Palmdale.
- South of Fort Tejon Road and E. Avenue W-14, east of 87th Street E., west of 165th Street E, and north of the forest.
- South of Highway 138, east of 165th Street E., west of Largo Vista Road., and north of the forest.
- South and west of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon, east of Angeles Forest Highway, and north of Angeles Crest Highway
- Residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.
- North of Fort Tejon Road, east of 87th Street E., west of 121st Street E., and south of Avenue V.
- South of Highway 138, east of 121st Street E., west of 165th Street E., and north of Fort Tejon Road and E. Avenue W-14.
- South of Highway 138, east of Largo Vista Road, west of 263rd Street E. (county line), and north of the forest.
- South of Highway 138, north of Weber Ranch Road, east of Cheseboro Road, and west of 87th Street E.
- South of Pearblossom Highway, south and east of Highway 122 (Sierra Hwy/Pearblossom), north and west of Mount Emma Road, west of Cheseboro Road, north and east of Angeles Forest Highway.
- South of Mt. Emma Rd., north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Rd., east of Angeles Forest Highway, and qest of Pacifico Mountain
- East Fork Areas: Julius Klein Conservation Camp 19, Camp Williams, and the River Community.
- The unincorporated community of Wrightwood