LOS ANGELES – The Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest increased slightly from 114,202 acres to 114,438 acres Wednesday, while its containment increased from 62% to 63%, authorities said.
A heat advisory was in place through 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2, with hot and dry conditions expected over the region. Temperatures near 100 degrees were expected through Thursday before a slight cooling trend begins over the weekend, the U.S. Forest Service reported.
Air quality regulators canceled a long-running smoke advisory Wednesday.
“(The South Coast Air Quality Management District) has discontinued its smoke advisory for the Bobcat Fire,” the agency said. “However, an ozone (or smog) advisory remains active through Friday evening due to the ongoing heatwave.”
The estimated containment date of the fire was pushed back to Oct. 30 earlier this week, as firefighters braced for challenging conditions brought on by a week of low humidity and high temperatures. Officials previously estimated full containment by Wednesday.
The fire has been burning for more than three weeks, threatening communities in the Antelope Valley and foothills of the San Gabriel Valley, with 992 firefighting personnel assigned to the scene. Crews were strengthening containments lines, monitoring areas for spot fires, and looking for opportunities to attack the fire directly.
Flames have destroyed 163 structures and affected another 35 in the Antelope Valley area, with seven sustaining minor damage and five sustaining 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 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 center at Palmdale High School is now closed. Anyone still needing assistance should call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-675-5799.
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, but officials are investigating an equipment issue experienced by Southern California Edison around the time the fire broke out.
“SCE submitted Sept. 15 an initial electric safety incident report to the California Public Utilities Commission. SCE is required to submit a report to the CPUC on certain types of incidents including those receiving significant media attention like a wildfire which may involve utility facilities,” David Song, public information officer for Southern California Edison, told City News Service.
“On Sunday, Sept. 6, at 12:21 p.m. the Bobcat Fire was reported in the vicinity of Cogswell Reservoir/Dam in the Angeles National Forest. A section of SCE’s circuit experienced a relay operation at 12:16 p.m. on Sept. 6. However, the Mt. Wilson East camera captured the initial stages of the fire, with the first observed smoke at least as early as 12:10 p.m., prior to any activity on our circuit,” Song continued. “On Sept. 15, U.S. Forest Service personnel requested the removal of a section of SCE’s overhead conductor in the vicinity of Cogswell Dam. This occurred on Sept. 16, 2020. The cause of the fire, located in a high fire risk area, will be investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, and the company will cooperate fully with that investigation.
“SCE submitted an initial ESIR out of an abundance of caution given the U.S. Forest Service’ interest in retaining the company’s facilities in connection with the agency’s investigation. The submission of this report to the CPUC is intended to put them on notice of an incident so that it can conduct its own investigation,” Song said.