The Bobcat Fire grew by more than 17,000 acres Friday, and additional evacuation orders and warnings were issued for the Antelope Valley and northern Angeles National Forest throughout the day The 72,767-acre blaze made a "hard push to the west and north" Friday, as wind gusts reached 44 mph, the U.S. Forest Service reported. It had burned 55,617 acres through Thursday.
Containment increased from 9% to 15%, but new evacuation orders were issued for homes in Juniper Hills, Paradise Springs, Devil's Punchbowl and other communities in the northern part of the Angeles National Forest and southern part of the Antelope Valley.
Evacuation orders were issued Friday for residents:
-- north of Avenue X, south of Pearblossom Highway, east of 155th Street East and west of 165th Street East
-- south of Pearblossom Highway, north of Big Pines Highway, west of Largo Vista Road and east of 165th Street East
-- south of East Avenue V, north of Fort Tejon Road, west of 121st Street East and east of 87th Street East
-- south of East Avenue U-12, north of East Avenue W-14, west of 165th Street East, and east of 121st Street East
-- south of Fort Tejon Road, west of Longview Road, north of Colley Place, east of 89th Street, as well as south of East Avenue W- 14, west of 165th Street East, north of Tumpleweed Road and east of Longview Road -- east of Highway 39, south of East Fork Road, west of Glendora Mountain Road and north of Glendora Ridge Road.
"Numerous evacuation orders and warnings were issued today as the fire continued to make an aggressive push on the north, western and eastern edge," the U.S. Forest Service reported Friday night. The number of homes affected was not available from the sheriff's department.
"Juniper Hills north to Longview is being threatened by fire, structure protection is in place," the U.S. Forest service said Friday afternoon. Broadcast reports from the scene showed structures that appeared to be homes burning in the Juniper Hills area, but the U.S. Forest Service could not confirm.
"Mt. Wilson is still safe and we will continue to focus on the north end of the fire," Angeles National Forest officials said in a statement after daybreak Friday. Fire retardant was placed around Mount Wilson.
The National Weather Service reported humidity at 16% near the blaze and winds blowing about 24 mph. Winds pushed smoke into the downwind mountain and desert communities northeast of the fire, the U.S. Forest Service said.
The fire was 3% contained earlier this week, and containment was increased to 9% Thursday, as crews worked throughout the day to protect the Mount Wilson Observatory and nearby broadcast towers valued at more than $1 billion from approaching flames.
Observatory personnel were evacuated. Mount Wilson is 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.
A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Palmdale High School.
Evacuation warnings were also issued Thursday evening for the unincorporated area of Wrightwood, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department reported.
Full containment of the fire, which will be achieved by way of cleared vegetation, was not estimated until Oct. 30, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Officials had earlier estimated full containment by Oct. 15 but revised that date on Sunday.
A closure order for all National Forests in Southern California was extended to Monday.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended its smoke advisory through Saturday afternoon with most of its jurisdiction experiencing smoke impacts.
The Los Angeles Zoo, which closed Sunday due to poor air quality and had hoped to reopen on Tuesday, announced it will remain closed through Friday.
The zoo plans to open Saturday, and urged people who purchased tickets during the closure period to visit the facility's website to reschedule.
"Based on past fire events in the area, we do not anticipate air quality issues to affect our animals," according to a Twitter post from the zoo.
"However, our animal care and veterinary health staff are closely monitoring the animals in outdoor habitats and are preparing to respond as necessary."
The Bobcat Fire erupted on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area northeast of Mount Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest. The cause remains under investigation.