Containment of the Bobcat Fire smoldering in the Angeles National Forest was up to 92% Sunday, as more than 300 firefighters continued to work the 115,796-acre blaze that’s been burning for over a month.
“Crews will still be actively mopping up in the Mt. Wilson and Juniper Hills area. Residents might see some smoke in the area. This is from unburnt islands of fuels within the containment area,” according to a U.S. Forest Service statement. “Please do not call 911 if you see smoke in these areas. Also, residents of the Juniper Hills area should expect to see firefighters and equipment in the area.”
The blaze has destroyed 171 structures, including 87 residences, and damaged 47 structures, including 28 residences. The Nature Center at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area was destroyed, according to Los Angeles County parks officials.
A map, compiled from ongoing field damage inspection and subject to change, can be viewed at lacounty.gov/recovery/damage-inspection.
All evacuation orders have been canceled and most roads have been reopened, with the exception of Big Santa Anita Rd (the Chantry Road).
Angeles National Forest reopened last week, although burn areas remain closed.
Temperatures have gradually cooled in recent days, aiding the firefighting effort, but this week is expected to bring highs in the 90s and low humidity, increasing wildfire danger.
The Mount Wilson Institute issued a statement Thursday night to celebrate that the observatory had survived the fire, which at one point came within 20 feet of the historic facility.
“The 60-inch and 100-inch telescopes, which provided significant discoveries about the cosmos, were in danger of severe damage. The monastery, where astronomers and physicists stayed during their observing time, including founder George Ellery Hale, Edwin Hubble and Albert Einstein, was in danger of burning to the ground,” said Sam Hale, the chairman of the Mount Wilson Institute’s Board of Trustees.
“But that didn’t happen. Mount Wilson Observatory didn’t surrender to flames because courageous firefighters worked around the clock to preserve and defend this historic spot.”
The Mount Wilson Institute had also prepared for wildfires by clearing invasive fire-prone vegetation around the 100-year-old buildings, replacing old hydrants and repairing and filling three large water tankers with water to be used during drought.
A Go Fund Me campaign, started on Sept. 24, raised about $15,200 to help the observatory prepare for future wildfires, as well as refurbishing the observatory’s monastery, a dormitory for Observatory staff and visiting scientists, and renovating facilities to bring them up to 21st century standards, Hale said. The fund has a goal of $1 million.
The brush fire broke out on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area northeast of Mt. Wilson. The cause is still under investigation. The full containment date for the fire is projected to be Oct. 30.
The cost of fighting the fire has not been determined.