Nearly 900 firefighters backed up by nine water- and retardant-dropping aircraft were battling the 36,366-acre Bobcat Fire Monday, working to protect communities in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, including Arcadia and Sierra Madre where some residents were evacuated as flames burned downhill toward their homes.

With the fire only 6% contained, residents of Monrovia, Bradbury, Altadena, Duarte, Pasadena and other San Gabriel Valley areas were also advised to be ready to evacuate if flames spread their way.

An evacuation order was also issued for Camp Williams in the San Gabriel Mountains in Azusa. The property includes a campground, mobile home park, cafe and general store on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River

The Bobcat Fire erupted on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area northeast of Mount Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest. The cause remains under investigation. The fire’s size was listed at 36,366 acres on Monday, up from 33,312 acres on Sunday.

“Crews today will be focused on protecting foothills communities and Mt. Wilson. To the north it stayed south of Highway 2 and west of 39,” according to an Angeles National Forest statement released Monday morning.

Sierra Madre and Arcadia residents in an area north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue were ordered to evacuate on Sunday. The area includes parts of both cities.

Sierra Madre police said a total of 32 homes were affected by the evacuation order in their city, where the City Council unanimously approved a declaration of a state of emergency on Sunday.

Fire officials will hold a virtual public meeting via Zoom at 6:30 Monday evening to provide updates and answer residents’ questions so they don’t have to risk COVID-19 exposure in a large gathering. It can be accessed at usfs.zoomgov.com/J/1609926478.

A Red Cross evacuation center was established at the Santa Anita racetrack at 285 W. Huntington Drive. Residents were advised to enter through Gate 5. More information about the center is available at 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767).

The number of homes affected by the evacuation order in Arcadia was not immediately known. Multiple strike teams of firefighters were positioned through the north end of the city and will continuously patrol and watch the wildland-urban interface, according to city officials, who also noted the Arcadia Police Department is providing security in the evacuated areas.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she has signed a proclamation declaring a local emergency in the county because of the fire and requested a state proclamation. The proclamation will be subject to a ratification vote at the Board of Supervisors regular meeting on Tuesday

Full containment of the fire, which will be achieved by way of cleared vegetation, was not estimated until Oct. 30, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Officials had earlier estimated full containment by Oct. 15 but revised that date on Sunday.

Pasadena officials urged residents to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, while officials from multiple foothill communities reminded residents that it is illegal to fly drones over the fire area.

The Pasadena Humane Society said animal control workers would be stationed at the Red Cross evacuation zone to assist with the transport of displaced pets back to the Pasadena Humane shelter.

Over the weekend, the blaze burned downhill toward Monrovia and north toward State Route 2 in the Buckhorn Area, with “significant” western growth toward Mt. Wilson, Angeles National Forest officials reported.

Firefighters were being aided by five helicopters and four fixed-wing aircraft. Video released by the Forest Service showed the Angeles National Forest’s Bell Super 205A1++ helicopter performing night time water drops on the fire on Sunday. Additionally, firefighters were setting strategic fires to help clear vegetation on the southern end of the blaze in the Santa Anita Canyon area near Chantry Flat.

The abnormally dry vegetation has been fueling the blaze, leading to extreme fire behavior and rapid rates of spread.

Angeles Crest Highway 2 was closed from Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road to Big Pines, Highway 39 was closed at Old San Gabriel Canyon Road, and Glendora Ridge Road, Glendora Mountain Road, and Mount Wilson Road were closed, as well.

A smoke advisory was extended through Monday in most of Los Angeles County and parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as the fire spews smoke and ash into the atmosphere, creating extremely unhealthy conditions.

The Los Angeles Zoo was closed through Monday due to the unhealthy air. Zoo officials said they hope to reopen on Tuesday, but “will continue to monitor air quality advisories issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and adhere to air quality safety guidance for safely reopening.”

They added that staff was closely monitoring the animals that reside in outdoor habitats, but based on past fire events in the Los Angeles area, they did not anticipate any air quality issues to affect the zoo’s residents.

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