This story is no longer updated. Follow our coverage of the Bobcat fire on Wednesday, September 16 >>
Cover from yesterday:
The Bobcat fire continues to grow rapidly in the Angeles National Forest, causing evacuations and threatening communities in the foothills.
On Tuesday evening, officials reported that the fire remained “very active”. That said, Angeles National Forest officials reported in an evening briefing that they have made a lot of progress in protecting Mt. Wilson and the conditions there looked “really good”. Additional resources to fight the fire will be put in place overnight.
Earlier, officials reported that the blaze had been within 500 feet of Mt. Wilson Observatory. At that point, firefighters dug to defend the historic science station, which is arguably one of the most important sites in the world for scientific discovery.
A MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, aka a large C-130 converted for water drop) was on loan from Sacramento and carried out drops near Mt. Wilson.
Elsewhere, crews continue to work to defend homes in communities in the foothills and were also working to contain a section of the blaze that exploded on Route 2 this afternoon. So far 500-1,000 acres have burned north of the road in the Buckhorn area, officials reported.
Here’s what else we know about the fire so far today.
- Area: 41,773 acres
- Containment: 3% (growth rate of fires on Monday lowered total containment)
- Deployed resources: 1,158 firefighters
The blaze erupted last Sunday near the Cogswell Dam, then spread rapidly amid an intense, record-breaking heat wave, prompting evacuation orders for Mt. Wilson Observatory. The cause is still under investigation.
Firefighters continue to work on steep and difficult terrain with the help of helicopters and planes. Crews hope to take advantage of the weak winds forecast for the next few days to build containment lines around the flames.
The fire continues to spread uncontrollably, with occasional fires breaking out and growing rapidly. Firefighters warned last night that resources to fight the blaze were limited, which contributed to the blaze growing “beyond containment.” But on Tuesday morning, they reported that those resources were being increased, “allowing us to expand our efforts to reduce the growth of the fire.”
The main focus today continues to be the protection of Mt. Wilson and homes in the foothills communities. Officials said a secondary priority was to keep the blaze south of Highway 2.
“All critical thresholds for the growth of large fires are met and exceeded,” fire officials wrote on the incident page. “[The f]Anger is mainly influenced by slope and fuel, so it is likely to spread in all directions. “
Firefighters actively defended the infrastructure of Mt. Wilson Observatory overnight, triggering flashbacks on the slopes below the facility to slow the progress of the fire to the summit. This represented much of the smoke and fire seen last night from below.
This image is from @SCEis Mt. The Wilson Fire Camera faces east at 6:17 a.m. today as the #bobcatfire approaches. Mount. Wilson is home to 18 historic telescopes, cutting-edge science, and major radio and TV signal towers. Flashbacks were triggered below last night to protect the site. pic.twitter.com/snIS4X3ZuJ
– Sharon McNary (@KPCCsharon) September 15, 2020
Residents of dozens of homes in the Sierra Madre / Arcadia region were ordered to evacuate on Sunday, but firefighters have so far managed to keep the blaze out of the homes, officials said.
The fire also burned down in Spanish Canyon overnight, approaching Monrovia Canyon Park. Monrovia city officials have advised residents near the park to be prepared to evacuate if necessary, but that remains a warning on Tuesday morning.
- The Angeles National Forest – along with all other national forests in the state – has been closed until September 21.
- State Route 39 is closed on Old Gabriel Canyon Road to State Route 2
- State Route 2 is closed from Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road to Big Pines
- Big Tujunga Canyon Upper Road
- Mount. Wilson Road
- Glendora Mountain Road
- Glendora Ridge Path
On Sunday morning, the town of Arcadia issued an evacuation order for all residents who live north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue. This area includes a few houses in the nearby town of Sierra Madre. That order remained in effect Monday evening, city of Arcadia officials announced this afternoon.
Evacuation orders have been lifted for residents of the East Fork area, which includes Camp Williams and the River community center. Residents returning home have been urged to take Glendora Mountain Road as State Route 39 remains closed.
Evacuation warnings remain in effect for the following towns and communities in the foothills:
- Arcadia (outside the district under compulsory evacuation order)
- Sierra Madre (except the 32 houses under mandatory evacuation orders)
“Residents should have evacuation plans in place, organize their emergency evacuation supplies and have essential evacuation personal effects readily available,” US Forest Service officials said. written on the page of the fire incident. “Vehicles should be fully fueled, facing outward in their aisles, and ready to go.”
A Red Cross evacuation center has been re-established at Santa Anita Park, 285 W. Huntington Drive (entrance at gate 5).
LA County officials said a horse shelter has been established at the Pomona Fairplex (entrance at Gate 12).
South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory until Tuesday as unhealthy air continues to cover much of the LA Basin and the Inland Empire. It’s not just local fires; smoke is also reaching us from forest fires in northern California, Oregon and Washington.
Smoke is expected to persist in the basin and valley areas overnight.
The unhealthy air prompted county officials to shut down three COVID-19 test sites today:
- Pomona fairplex
- San Gabriel Valley Airport
- Panoramic city
Find the latest air quality information for your area at airnow.gov.
ABOUT MT. WILSON
Mount. The Wilson Observatory is home to 18 telescopes, many of which were used to make some of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the last century. They include the 100-inch Hooker Telescope that Edwin Hubble used in the 1920s to prove that our universe is still expanding. Observatory director Tom Meneghini said he feared they would be seriously affected if the fire got close enough.
Heat can cause irreparable damage. Our two large telescopes are historically important and irreplaceable, ”said Meneghini.
However, he said the fires have already drawn closer and the decades-old Observatory firefighting facility is ready for reuse. “We have an underground system of pipes and pumps,” he said.
“We have half a million gallons of water ready to pump, so everything has been set up for any fire professional to come and take over.”
The blaze is also threatening a seismic station that has recorded seismic activity for 100 years, seismologist Lucy Jones said via Twitter.
Many TV and radio stations have transmitters in the area, including our newsroom which broadcasts on the radio at 89.3 KPCC.
HOW WE REPORT ON THIS
This is a developing story. We check everything and rely only on information from credible sources (think firefighters, police, government officials and journalists on the ground). Sometimes, however, we make mistakes and / or the initial reports turn out to be wrong. Either way, we strive to bring you the most accurate information in real time and will update this story as new information becomes available.
For the latest information direct from local emergency officials, check out the following websites and social media accounts:
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