The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest grew by nearly 10,000 acres Thursday, as evacuation orders were expanded in the Antelope Valley and flames burned near the Mount Wilson Observatory.
The fire has burned 55,617 acres, the U.S. Forest Service reported. It had burned 46,263 acres through Wednesday. Containment rose to 9% Thursday after being at 3% since Monday night. The increased containment was in the fire’s south end.
Operations Thursday night will focus on the north end, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
Early Thursday afternoon, residents in the Juniper Hills, Paradise Springs and Devil’s Punchbowl areas were ordered evacuated, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The fire was reported to be growing northward.
Evacuation warnings were also issued Thursday evening for the unincorporated area of Wrightwood, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department reported.
The U.S. Forest Service reported Thursday the fire crossed Highway 2 near the junction with Highway 39, into Pleasant View Wilderness, moving towards Juniper Hills and Devil’s Punchbowl.
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.
“Fire activity remained active around Mt. Wilson with crews and equipment working very hard to protect infrastructure,” the U.S. Forest Service reported.
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.
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 Friday afternoon 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.
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