LOS ANGELES – The estimated containment date of the 114,200-acre Bobcat Fire was pushed back to Oct. 30 Tuesday as firefighters braced for challenging conditions brought on by a week of low humidity and high temperatures.
The fire, which was 62% contained, 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, with 1,363 firefighting personnel assigned to the scene as of Tuesday morning. Officials previously estimated that it would be fully containment by Wednesday, Sept. 30.
U.S. Forest Service officials said crews continued to actively patrol the fire area overnight, searching for hot spots along the perimeter while monitoring containment lines in preparation for the winds.
On Tuesday, crews were focused on strengthening containments lines, monitoring areas for spot fires, and looking for opportunities to attack the fire directly.
At 8 a.m. Tuesday, an evacuation warning was lifted for the unincorporated community of Wrightwood.
Flames have destroyed 163 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, 83 were residential, one was commercial and 79 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 Saturday, Sept. 26, 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.
The Red Cross evacuation centers at Palmdale High School and Santa Anita Park are now closed. Anyone still needing assistance should 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.
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 they continue to patrol and mop up through Mt. Wilson.
Planners were expected to continue monitoring areas plotted with dots on their maps that indicate concerning hot spots that could flare up again.
“Residents will continue to see smoke from burning islands within the perimeters,” the U.S. Forest Service 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 is difficult to tell where smoke, ash or soot from a fire will go, or how winds will affect the level of these particles in the air, so we ask everyone to remember that smoke and ash can be harmful to health, even for people who are healthy,” said Dr. Muntu Davis, the county’s health officer. “If you can see smoke, soot, or ash, or you can smell smoke, pay attention to your immediate environment and take precautions to safeguard your health. These precautions are particularly important for children, older adults, and people with heart or lung diseases.”
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.
The cause is still under investigation.