Bobcat Fire destroys homes as it makes ‘wind-driven run’ into Juniper Hills; 142 square miles burned

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The Bobcat Fire made a wind-driven run through the Angeles National Forest, destroying homes as it pushed northward into the Antelope Valley, consuming 146 square miles, officials said Saturday.

Burning for a fourteenth day and fanned by strong winds, the rapidly spreading blaze cut a destructive path through the forest as it exploded across the San Gabriel Mountains and advanced on the foothill communities of Juniper Hills, Valyermo and Big Rock Springs, triggering new evacuation orders.

By Saturday night, it had consumed 93,842 acres and crews had it just 15% contained.

New evacuation orders were issued Saturday afternoon for residents in the foothills north of the Bobcat Fire in the area south of 138th Street East, north of Big Pine Highway and Highway 2, west of 263rd East and east of Largo Vista Road. 

Wind gusts of up to 40 mph pulled the fire north and northeast toward State Route 138 Friday, spotting across long ranges as it torched trees and fed on dry chaparral, brush and tall grass. Even when the winds died down overnight, the fire remained very active, fire officials said.

The wildfire jumped containment lines and the strong winds made it difficult for crews to stop the spread of flames along the fire’s northern edge near Antelope Valley, Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said. The fire grew by about 30,000 acres since Friday morning.

Flames ripped through several structures in the Antelope Valley, sending plumes of black smoke billowing over the region as firefighters raced to defend the communities, video showed.

Fire officials have yet to survey the damage and count exactly how many homes were lost.

The winds that brought the destruction Friday were forecast to continue through Saturday, with gusts of up to 25 mph expected, according to the federal InciWeb page.

The plan Saturday was for crews to secure the fire’s northern perimeter — where it has been most active — to protect communities in the flames’ path.

West of the fire, firefighters continue to work to protect the still-threatened Mt. Wilson Observatory and Chilao, while others will mop up and secure the area along the Highway 39 corridor where they used strategic firing operations the day before.

Pines and Wrightwood lie about 5 and 8 miles away from the fire’s path and firefighters expect those communities to be impacted “very soon,” according to InciWeb.

“It is very important to be alert for any additional evacuation orders or warnings that might take place today due to forecasted gusty winds,” fire officials said Saturday.

Click here if you can’t view this evacuation map. Areas in red are under evacuation orders and in yellow are under evacuation warnings.

Evacuation orders

  • North of Angeles Crest North and between Clear Creek Station and Highway 39.
  • Residents in the foothills north of the Bobcat Fire in the area south of 138th Street East, north of Big Pine Highway and Highway 2, west of 263rd East and east of Largo Vista Road. 
  • The area east of Devil’s Punch Bowl Road, south of the Big Pines Highway, north of the Big Rock Creek and west of Jackson Lake.
  • Aqueduct — south of Pearblossom Highway, north of Big Pines, east of 165th and west of Largo Vista Road
  • Ward — north of Fort Tejon Road, south of Avenue V, east of 87th E., west of 121 Street E.
  • Longview — south of Avenue 12, north of Aqueduct, west of 165 Street E and east of 121 Street E.
  • Tejon — south of Fort Tejon Road, north of Cooley Place, east of 89th Street E. and west of Longview Road.
  • Peach — north of Pallett Creek, south of W. 114th Street, east of Longview Road and west of 165th Street.
  • Cima block — 96th east to 116th St. E/Fort Tejon Rd south to State Route 2
  • Juniper block — 116th E to Devil’s Punchbowl Road / Fort Tejor Road to State Route 2
  • Punchbowl block — Devil’s Punchbowl Road to and including Fenner Camp
  • Paradise block — Fenner Camp to intersection of State Route 2 and Big Pines
  • Chilao, the CalTrans Yard, the 3 Points area and the Angeles Crest Christian Camp
  • Crystal Lake area

Evacuation warnings

Warnings remain in effect for the communities of Wrightwood, Altadena, and Pasadena. Residents north of Foothill Boulevard and east of Santa Anita Avenue are also told to prepare to flee.

Areas south of Pearblosson Highway, northeast of Angeles Forest, northwest of Mt. Emma and southeast of Highway 122 were placed under evacuation warnings Saturday afternoon.

Later in the evening, fire officials said warnings were also in effect for areas east and north of Angeles Forest Highway as well as west of Cheseboro Road.

Earlier, evacuation warnings were lifted for Arcadia, Sierra Madre, Monrovia, Duarte and Bradbury.

All roads leading into San Gabriel Canyon remain closed among several other closures due to the spreading blaze.

A Red Cross Evacuation Center was set up at Palmdale High School at 2137 E. Avenue R, Palmdale, 93550. The evacuation point at Santa Anita Park was closed.

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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