Firefighters increased containment of the Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest to 84% contained Sunday, although the 114,963-acre blaze continued to threaten some 6,000 structures.
Saturday's fire behavior was expected to mainly consist of smoldering where heat exists within the fire's existing footprint, with firefighters mopping up, patrolling and improving containment lines.
An exception is an interior island northeast of Mt. Wilson, where fire was expected to continue to consume approximately 300 acres within the control lines. The area is not a prescribed burning but a pocket of fire in tough terrain that has been difficult for firefighters to access.
“Isolated pockets of fire are still present in the Mt. Wilson area on the northern slope and firefighting priorities are to protect the observatory and communications sites there,'' the U.S. Forest Service said.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Altadena Station informed residents “the higher volume of smoke is from a fire flare up in the Angeles Crest Highway and Red Box Road area near Mt. Wilson.
“The flare up is contained by fire crews in an approximate five mile perimeter and is not moving out of the containment or toward the Altadena or Crescenta Valley areas.”
The department said the burning will continue “throughout the weekend causing more smoke over Altadena than previously seen in the last few days.”
Mt. Wilson is home not only one of the crown jewels of astronomy but also home to infrastructure that transmits cellphone signals and television and radio broadcasts for the greater Los Angeles Area.
Firefighters reported minimal fire activity and no fire growth on Friday and, combined with forecast lower temperatures this weekend and light winds, the fire was not expected to grow significantly, the USFS said.
As of Saturday, 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; and
- residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.
Evacuation warnings remained:
- 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; and
- East Fork Areas: Julius Klein Conservation Camp 19, Camp Williams and the River Community.
Flames have destroyed 170 structures in the Antelope Valley area, with 87 of those residential. Six injuries have also been reported, according to USFS officials.
A map, which is compiled from ongoing field damage inspection and subject to change, can be viewed at lacounty.gov/recovery/damage-inspection/.
The Nature Center at the Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area was burned by the fire and is closed until further notice, Los Angeles County parks officials said.
The Angeles National Forest is closed until at least Oct. 8. The Forest is closed to all general activity, including developed campgrounds and day-use sites due to wildfire threat, and the use of any ignition sources -- such as campfires and gas stoves -- is prohibited.
The following road closures were also in effect:
- Big Santa Anita Rd (the Chantry road);
- Big Pines Highway is open but Big Rock Creek Rd remains closed;
- Highway 2 is from Big Pines to La Canada;Angeles Forest Highway from Aliso Canyon to Highway 2;
- Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Rd;
- Highway 39 above Old San Gabriel Canyon Rd.
Thirty-three members of California's congressional delegation, including Rep. Judy Chu, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, wrote a letter to President Donald Trump this week urging him to support Gov. Gavin Newsom's request for a Major Disaster Declaration to respond to the wildfires raging in California, including the Bobcat Fire, which is burning in Chu's district.
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.
Some 936 personnel were engaged in the firefighting effort as of Saturday.
The estimated full containment date for the fire is Oct. 30.