The Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest increased slightly from 114,202 acres to 114,438 acres Wednesday, while its containment increased from 62% to 63%, authorities said.
A heat advisory was in place through 8 p.m. Friday, with hot and dry conditions expected over the region. Temperatures near 100 degrees were expected through Thursday before a slight cooling trend begins over the weekend, the U.S. Forest Service reported.
And officials cautioned people to be vigilant regarding smoke and ash.
“It is difficult to tell where smoke, ash or soot from a fire will go, or how winds will affect the level of these particles in the air, so we ask everyone to remember that smoke and ash can be harmful to health, even for people who are healthy,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, the county’s health officer. “If you can see smoke, soot, or ash, or you can smell smoke, pay attention to your immediate environment and take precautions to safeguard your health. These precautions are particularly important for children, older adults, and people with heart or lung diseases.”
The estimated containment date of the fire was pushed back to Oct. 30 earlier this week, as firefighters braced for challenging conditions brought on by a week of low humidity and high temperatures. Officials previously estimated full containment by Wednesday.
The fire has been burning for more than three weeks, threatening communities in the Antelope Valley and foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, with 992 firefighting personnel assigned to the scene.
Crews were strengthening containments lines, monitoring areas for spot fires, and looking for opportunities to attack the fire directly.
As of Wednesday, evacuation orders remained for residents:
— In Paradise Springs — 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;
— Residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.
Evacuation warnings remained for:
— South of Big Pines Highway, east of Largo Vista Road, west of 263rd Street East (county line), and north of the forest;
— 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;
An evacuation warning was lifted Tuesday for the unincorporated community of Wrightwood in San Bernardino County.
Flames have destroyed 163 structures and affected another 35 in the Antelope Valley area, with seven 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, 83 were residential, one was commercial and 79 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.
Evacuation orders were lifted 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 warnings for Altadena and Pasadena issued on Sept. 8 were lifted last week, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
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.
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.
The cause is still under investigation, but officials are investigating an equipment issue experienced by Southern California Edison around the time the fire broke out.
“SCE submitted Sept. 15 an initial electric safety incident report to the California Public Utilities Commission. SCE is required to submit a report to the CPUC on certain types of incidents including those receiving significant media attention like a wildfire which may involve utility facilities,” David Song, public information officer for Southern California Edison, told City News Service.
“On Sunday, Sept. 6, at 12:21 p.m. the Bobcat Fire was reported in the vicinity of Cogswell Reservoir/Dam in the Angeles National Forest. A section of SCE’s circuit experienced a relay operation at 12:16 p.m. on Sept. 6. However, the Mt. Wilson East camera captured the initial stages of the fire, with the first observed smoke at least as early as 12:10 p.m., prior to any activity on our circuit,” Song continued. “On Sept. 15, U.S. Forest Service personnel requested the removal of a section of SCE’s overhead conductor in the vicinity of Cogswell Dam. This occurred on Sept. 16, 2020. The cause of the fire, located in a high fire risk area, will be investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, and the company will cooperate fully with that investigation.
“SCE submitted an initial ESIR out of an abundance of caution given the U.S. Forest Service’ interest in retaining the company’s facilities in connection with the agency’s investigation. The submission of this report to the CPUC is intended to put them on notice of an incident so that it can conduct its own investigation.”