Santa Ana winds fueled extreme flame activity at the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest Wednesday, with the blaze nearly doubling in size before the gusts were expected to largely subside overnight.
Although the wildfire exploded from about 11,450 acres to just shy of 19,800, the winds largely fanned flames away from the foothill communities they were earlier threatening. However, the blaze remained 0% contained Wednesday night, fire officials said.
The strong gusts pushed the fire east and across Highway 39. Earlier in the day, smoke was so dense that firefighting aircrafts had to remain grounded, though they were later used to strengthen containment lines on the fire’s south perimeter, crews said.
A red flag warning expired at 8 p.m., but weak offshore winds would continue through Thursday morning, according to the National Weather Service.
NWS had earlier forecast widespread 20 to 30 mph winds in many mountain areas.
Around 5 p.m., voluntary evacuations were lifted for Arcadia residents north of Foothill Boulevard and east of Santa Anita Avenue due to the diminishing winds. However, residents were advised to remain on alert for potential changes in weather conditions, city officials said.
Residents in Monrovia, Duarte, Bradbury, Sierra Madre, Pasadena and Altadena were still under a warning to be ready to evacuate if needed.
The areas of Big Santa Anita Canyon, Mount Wilson, San Gabriel Canyon and Monrovia Canyon are already under evacuation orders.
The Red Cross has opened an evacuation center at Santa Anita Park, located at 285 W. Huntington Dr. inside Gate 5.
The Angeles National Forest will be closed to all general activity until Sept. 14, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Portions of State Route 2 and State Route 39 are closed as a result of the fire, Caltrans tweeted. It is unclear how long the closures will remain in place.
The Bobcat fire started shortly before 12:30 p.m. Sunday near Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
A smoke advisory has been issued for portions of Los Angeles County. More information can be found on the AQMD website.