LOS ANGELES – Containment of the 114,200-acre Bobcat Fire dropped from 65% to 62% Monday, as firefighters prepared for a day of moderate Santa Ana winds.
The fire has been burning in the Angeles National Forest for nearly three weeks, threatening communities in the Antelope Valley and foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. Its estimated date of full containment remained the same — Wednesday, Sept. 30 — as 1,363 firefighting personnel were assigned to the scene as of Monday.
U.S. Forest Service officials said crews continued to actively patrol the fire area overnight, searching out heat along the perimeter while monitoring containment lines in preparation for the winds.
A red flag warning was in effect through 5 p.m. Monday. North to northeast wind gusts between 30 and 45 mph were expected to weaken by Monday night, but low relative humidity in the teens and single digits were expected to combine with higher temperatures to keep the fire danger high all week long.
As of Monday morning, evacuation orders remained for residents:
— In Paradise Springs — south of Big Pines Highway, east of Devil’s Punchbowl, west of Largo Vista Road, and north of the forest;
— South and west of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon, east of Angeles Forest Highway, and north of Angeles Crest Highway;
— Residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.
Evacuation warnings remained for:
— South of Big Pines Highway, east of Largo Vista Road, west of 263rd Street East (county line), and north of the forest;
— South of Mt. Emma Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Pacifico Mountain;
— East Fork Areas: Julius Klein Conservation Camp 19, Camp Williams and the River Community;
— Unincorporated community of Wrightwood.
Flames have destroyed 161 structures and affected another 35 in the Antelope Valley area, with seven sustaining minor damage and five 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 buildings destroyed, 82 were residential, one was commercial and 78 were described as “other.”
The Nature Center at the Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area was destroyed by the fire, Los Angeles County parks officials said. The area is closed until further notice.
Evacuation orders were lifted as of 4 p.m. Saturday for the following areas:
— South of Highway 138, north of Weber Ranch Road, east of Cheseboro Road, and west of 87th Street E.
— South of Highway 138, 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.
Evacuation warnings for Altadena and Pasadena issued on Sept. 8 were lifted last week, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
The Red Cross evacuation centers at Palmdale High School and Santa Anita Park are now closed. Anyone still needing assistance was advised to call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-675-5799.
On Sunday, in the west fork of Bear Mountain Canyon, just north of Pacifico Mountain Road, crews attacked a 25-acre fire burning in the drainage.
“We utilized aircraft to stop the forward progression,” said Kerri Gilliland, a trainee with the California Interagency Incident Management Team 1. “We will have resources out there through the evening and into (Monday).”
North of Little Rock Reservoir, patrols continued, as they did to the northeast into Juniper Hills, Punch Bowl, as well as the Little Rock area. Additional “mop up” efforts proceeded to the southeast along Pinyon Ridge, which forms the southern boundary of the Borrego Valley. Further south, crews targeted Manzanita Trail.
Firefighters also made progress along the southern edge of the fire from San Gabriel through the fire scar to Trask Scout Reservation as resources continue to patrol and mop up through Mt. Wilson.
Planners expected to continue monitoring areas plotted with dots on their maps that indicate concerning heat spots that could flare up again.
“Residents will continue to see smoke from burning islands within the perimeters,” Forest Service officials said. “Engines will remain available in the north for smoke checks near the communities.”
A smoke advisory warning of unhealthy air quality due to the fire was extended through Tuesday.
It remains unclear what caused the fire, but 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. The utility says it was not responsible for starting the blaze, insisting that fire was detected by a camera on Mt. Wilson a few minutes before it experienced an equipment issue.
A closure order has been issued for national forests in Southern California, including the Angeles National Forest.
The fire has burned more acres than the Woolsey Fire of 2018, which scorched 96,271 acres. 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 Mt. Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest.
Meanwhile, another fast-moving brush fire broke out Monday afternoon in the Castaic Canyons area near Santa Clarita.
The Martindale Fire blackened 200 acres in about 30 minutes and quickly threatened about a dozen structures. It started around 3 p.m. in the 34700 block of Bouquet Canyon Road, about two miles southwest of the Bouquet Reservoir.
Crews from the ANF and the Los Angeles County Fire Department were on the scene.