Firefighters continued to make progress Monday on the Bobcat Fire, which is 65% contained and has scorched 114,103 acres in the Angeles National Forest, having burned for nearly three weeks and threatening communities in the Antelope Valley and foothills of the San Gabriel Valley.
After a night of 1,427 personnel patrolling the fire area and putting out hot spots, responders were able to pull 64 people off of it Sunday, U.S. Forest Service officials said. Throughout the day, there was a lot of cleanup as firefighters sought to ensure previously contained areas were put out for good.
In the west fork of Bear Mountain Canyon, just north of Pacifico Mountain Road, crews attacked a 25-acre fire burning in the drainage.
“We utilized aircraft to stop the forward progression,” said Kerri Gilliland, a trainee with the California Interagency Incident Management Team 1. “We will have resources out there through the evening and into (Monday).”
North of Little Rock Reservoir, patrols continued, as they did to the northeast into Juniper Hills, Punch Bowl, as well as the Little Rock area. Additional “mop up” efforts proceeded to the southeast along Pinyon Ridge, which forms the southern boundary of the Borrego Valley. Further south, crews targeted Manzanita Trail.
“Right where the fire’s edge was backing down they continued to go in on portions that were accessible,” Gilliland said, describing the action taken in this section as light-touch “M.I.S.T.” tactics — an approach to quell flames with minimal environmental, cultural and social impacts.
Firefighters launched additional mop-up exercises in Door Canyon, as well as north of the San Gabriel Reservoir. Fire officials said there was “little to no fire activity” near Black Line, and no additional fire growth.
Firefighters also made progress along the southern edge of the fire from San Gabriel through the fire scar to Trask Scout Reservation as resources continue to patrol and mop up through Mt. Wilson.
But the flames have yet to be doused there.
“We had increased activity today,” Gilliland said Sunday, referring to a “green island” surrounded by a ring of fire by the Highway 2/Mt. Wilson road system. “This portion continues to burn and will continue to burn until this green island kind of burns itself out.”
Meanwhile, crews continued to mop up a fire that burned within 100 feet right off the road nearby, and out to Highway 2. Firefighters pursued the flames to Barley Flat. They took a run at a portion of the fire that was burning along the road system that extends to the Vetter Mountain Lookout, a historic site built in 1937.
Crews were deployed to an area just west of Waterman Mountain and to a section north of Highway 2, through Little Rock Truck Trail. Full containment was not expected until Wednesday.
Until then, planners expected to continue monitoring areas plotted with dots on their maps that indicate concerning heat spots that could flare up again.
“Residents will continue to see smoke from burning islands within the perimeters,” Forest Service officials said. “Engines will remain available in the north for smoke checks near the communities.”
Firefighters were also preparing for a period of increased fire danger due to high temperatures, low humidity and moderate Santa Ana winds, expected Monday.
Evacuation orders were lifted as of 4 p.m Saturday for the following areas:
— South of Highway 138, north of Weber Ranch Road, east of Cheseboro Road, and west of 87th Street E.
— South of Highway 138, 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.
Evacuation orders were lifted Friday and changed to evacuation warnings for Antelope Valley residents:
— South of Fort Tejon Road and East Avenue W-14, east of 87th Street East, west of 165th Street East and Devil’s Punchbowl, and north of the forest and Big Pines Highway;
Evacuation orders remained for residents:
— South of Big Pines Highway, east of Devil’s Punchbowl, 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;
— Along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39;
— South of Highway 138, east of 165th Street, west of Largo Vista Road, and north of Big Pines Highway.
Other evacuation warnings remained for:
— South of Big Pines Highway, 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 Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Pacifico Mountain;
— East Fork Areas: Julius Klein Conservation Camp 19, Camp Williams and the River Community;
— Unincorporated community of Wrightwood.
Evacuation warnings for Altadena and Pasadena issued on Sept. 8 were lifted, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Repopulation orders went into effect at 2 p.m. Thursday 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 Red Cross evacuation centers at Palmdale High School and Santa Anita Park are now closed. Anyone still needing assistance was advised to call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-675-5799.
It remains unclear what caused the fire, but 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. The utility says it was not responsible for starting the blaze, insisting that fire was detected by a camera on Mt. Wilson a few minutes before it experienced an equipment issue.
A closure order has been issued for national forests in Southern California, including the Angeles National Forest, which will be closed through Oct. 1, the U.S. Forest Service said.
Flames have destroyed 138 structures and affected another 30, with eight sustaining minor damage and five 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 buildings destroyed, 65 were residential, one was commercial and 72 were described 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 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 Mt. Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest.