Flames from the Bobcat Fire
Flames from the Bobcat fire near the community of Valyermo on Saturday night. Courtesy OnScene.TV

Some evacuation warnings were lifted and repopulation efforts were in effect Thursday as firefighters attained 50% containment for the 113,986-acre Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest.

Evacuation warnings for Altadena and Pasadena issued on Sept. 8 were lifted, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Repopulation orders were in effect at 2 p.m. for residents in the East Fork areas of Julius Klein Conservation Camp 19, Camp Williams and River Community, the sheriff’s department reported.

About 7 a.m. Thursday, evacuation warnings were changed to a “repopulation order” with “no restrictions” for the following areas:

— Clear Areas: north of East Avenue W-14, south of Pearblossom Highway, east of 155th Street East, west of 165th Street East;

— Sand Areas: north of Big Pine Highway and Highway 2, south of 138th Street East, east of Largo Vista Road, west of 263rd Street. The southwestern region of the Sand Area may have power outages.

— Ward Areas: north of Fort Tejon Road, south of East Avenue V, east of 87th Street East, west of 121st Street East.

The Bobcat Fire increased in size slightly overnight — from 113,733 acres to 113,986 acres — and the containment expanded from 39% to 50%, forest officials said Thursday.

“Fire activity has moderated, and only 253 acres were added overnight,” Angeles National Forest officials said in a statement after daybreak Thursday.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District’s smoke advisory was extended through Friday afternoon, with winds expected to push northeast and east into the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains and out of the South Coast Air Basin.

U.S. Forest Service officials are investigating an equipment issue experienced by Southern California Edison around the time the fire broke out to determine if it was a factor in sparking one of the largest wildfires in Los Angeles County history.

Firefighters earlier this week successfully set backfires, including from the air, to destroy vegetation fueling the blaze and protect the Mount Wilson Observatory and several broadcast and telecommunications towers.

The fire, one of the largest in Los Angeles County history, is burning in the Angeles National Forest and threatening communities in the Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Valley foothills.

A closure order has been issued for national forests in Southern California, including the Angeles National Forest. The Angeles National Forest will be closed through Oct. 1, the U.S. Forest Service said.

Flames have destroyed 52 structures and affected another 14, with three suffering minor damage and one suffering major damage, according to a damage assessment provided by Los Angeles County officials. That map, which is compiled from ongoing field damage inspection and subject to change, can be viewed at lacounty.gov/recovery/damage-inspection/.

Of the 52 buildings destroyed, 27 were identified as residential, one as commercial and 24 as “other.”

The Nature Center at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area was burned by the fire, Los Angeles County parks officials said. The area is closed until further notice.

The fire has burned more acres than the Woolsey Fire of 2018, which scorched 96,271 acres, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said Tuesday. The Station Fire in 2009 burned 160,577 acres.

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 has not been determined, but U.S. Forest Service officials are investigating an equipment issue experienced by Southern California Edison that happened around the time the fire broke out.

The utility said in papers filed with the California Public Utilities Commission last week that it would remove a specific section of SCE overhead conductor in the vicinity of Cogswell Dam as requested.

SCE reported that “the Jarvis 12 kV circuit out of Dalton Substation experienced a relay operation at 12:16 p.m. on September 6,” but maintains that smoke had already been detected by a camera on Mount Wilson at 12:10 p.m. that day.

“While USFS has not alleged that SCE facilities were involved in the ignition of the Bobcat Fire, SCE submits this report in an abundance of caution given USFS’s interest in retaining SCE facilities in connection with its investigation,” the utility said.

A total of 1,575 personnel were assigned to the fire as of Thursday night. Full containment is not expected until Oct. 30.

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