Containment of the Bobcat Fire, which has blackened 114,901 acres in the Angeles National Forest, increased Thursday to 75%.
“The Bobcat Fire, after three weeks of hard work, is winding down,” the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement issued Thursday morning.
The fire has been burning for more than three weeks, threatening communities in the Antelope Valley and foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, with 995 firefighting personnel assigned to the blaze.
The estimated containment date 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 had previously estimated full containment by Wednesday.
A heat advisory is in place through 8 p.m. Friday, with hot and dry conditions and temperatures approaching the century mark before a slight cooling trend begins over the weekend, the U.S. Forest Service reported.
Crews were strengthening containments lines, monitoring areas for spot fires, and looking for opportunities to attack the fire directly.
As of Thursday, 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; and
— residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.
Evacuation warnings remained:
— 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; and
— East Fork Areas: Julius Klein Conservation Camp 19, Camp Williams and the River Community.
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 and is closed until further notice, Los Angeles County parks officials said.
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.
Thirty-three members of California’s congressional delegation, including Rep. Judy Chu, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, wrote a letter to President Donald Trump this week urging him to support Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration to respond to the wildfires raging in California, including the Bobcat Fire, which is burning in Chu’s district.
“I applaud the amazing work California’s firefighting teams have been doing to contain these fires, and I’m grateful for the leadership exhibited at the state and local level to keep communities safe,” Chu said. “The coordination with the federal government, particularly the U.S. Forest Service, has been vital, and now, as we start looking towards recovery, we must build on that cooperation with federal assistance. Our state is currently managing multiple crisis from the coronavirus and wildfires, but we cannot do it alone. I’m proud to be leading this bipartisan call to urge the president to grant California’s request for a disaster declaration which will open up access to recovery funds and more.”
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,” SCE spokesman David Song 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 said.
“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.”
He said 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.”
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