Evacuations were ordered Thursday in two areas north of the Bobcat Fire, which expanded from 46,263 acres to 50,539 acres since Wednesday while remaining only 3% contained.
Early Thursday afternoon, residents in the Juniper Hills and Devils Punchbowl areas were ordered evacuated, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The fire was reported growing northward.
Juniper Hills residents south of Fort Tejon Road and east of 96th Street, as well as east and south of Valyermo Road and west of Bob’s Gap Road, had been told to pack and prepare to evacuate Wednesday night.
Forest officials reported that the fire crossed Highway 2 near the junction with Highway 39, which is south of Juniper Hills.
Evacuation orders were lifted Wednesday for residents north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia and portions of Sierra Madre.
Residents were able to return to their homes at 4 p.m.
“Welcome home Arcadia,” the Arcadia Fire Department tweeted Wednesday evening. “Continue to be vigilant and stay alert as Arcadia remains in an evacuation warning status should fire conditions change.
“Rest easy tonight. Arcadia Police and Fire departments will be monitoring the area overnight.”
Fire crews worked throughout the day to protect the Mount Wilson Observatory and nearby broadcast towers valued at more than $1 billion from approaching flames.
Back fires set throughout the day Tuesday near the observatory were effective in decreasing the intensity and spread of the flames, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
“The area around Mount Wilson and the southwestern edge of the fire remains active where crews continue to protect the Mount Wilson Observatory infrastructure,” fire officials said Wednesday night.
Observatory personnel were evacuated. Mount Wilson is not only one of the crown jewels of astronomy but also home to infrastructure that transmits cell phone signals and television and radio broadcasts for the greater Los Angeles Area.
At the north end of the fire, the focus was to try to contain the spot fires across Highway 2 after a 500- to 1,000-acre spot fire crossed the highway Tuesday. Air tankers were ordered Wednesday morning to help contain the spot fire in the Cooper Canyon area.
The east side of the fire remained quiet.
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.
A closure order for all National Forests in Southern California was extended to Monday.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended its smoke advisory through Thursday with most of its jurisdiction experiencing smoke impacts.
The Los Angeles Zoo, which closed Sunday due to poor air quality and had hoped to reopen on Tuesday, announced it will remain closed through Friday.
The zoo plans to open Saturday, and urged people who purchased tickets during the closure period to visit the facility’s website to reschedule.
“Based on past fire events in the area, we do not anticipate air quality issues to affect our animals,” according to a Twitter post from the zoo.
“However, our animal care and veterinary health staff are closely monitoring the animals in outdoor habitats and are preparing to respond as necessary.”
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.
A virtual meeting was planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, involving Bobcat Fire Unified Command representatives, which will provide an update and answer questions. The meeting will be live-streamed via multiple platforms, including www.facebook.com/LACoFD and facebook.com/MonroviaCalifornia; and on a YouTube live-stream via the city of Duarte.