More evacuation warnings were lifted and repopulation efforts were underway Saturday as firefighters maintained 55% containment of the 113,986-acre Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest, which has burned for nearly three weeks.
Some 1,554 personnel assigned to the fire spent the night patrolling the fire area and putting out hot spots, U.S. Forest Service officials said. Priority areas included Mt. Wilson to Highway 2, Dorr Canyon and Rock Creek Road to ensure containment lines will hold if Santa Ana winds forecast for early next week materialize. Full containment is not expected until Wednesday.
“Residents will continue to see smoke from burning islands (sic) within the perimeters. Engines will remain available in the north for smoke checks near the communities,” according to an Inciweb statement..
At 4 p.m. Friday, evacuation orders were lifted and changed to evacuation warnings for Antelope Valley residents who live:
— 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;
— South of Highway 138, east of 165th Street, west of Largo Vista Road, and north of Big Pines Highway.
Residents only were allowed into the area for the first 24 hours, fire officials said.
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.
Evacuation orders 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; and
— 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.
A South Coast Air Quality Management District’s smoke advisory was extended through Saturday afternoon, with winds expected to push northeast and east into the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains.
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.
Firefighters earlier this week successfully set backfires, including from the air, to destroy vegetation fueling the blaze and protect the Mount Wilson Observatory and several broadcast and telecommunications towers.
The fire is burning in the Angeles National Forest and threatening communities in the Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Valley foothills.
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 52 structures and affected another 14, with three sustaining minor damage and one 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 52 buildings destroyed, 27 were residential, one was commercial and 24 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 Los Angeles County Fire Department said Tuesday. 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 Mount Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest.