Wildfires

Homes, Devil's Punchbowl Visitors Center Destroyed as Bobcat Fire Burns North

The focus of efforts shifted over the weekend as the fire burned in Angeles National Forest into the Antelope Valley.

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The destruction wrought by a wind-driven wildfire in the mountains northeast of Los Angeles reached more than 105,000 acres Monday, burning structures, homes and a nature center in a famed Southern California wildlife sanctuary in foothill desert communities.

The Bobcat Fire is 15% contained.

The blaze is expected to grow through Monday as critical fire weather conditions continued due to gusty wind and low humidity in portions of the San Gabriel Mountains and the Antelope Valley.

Gusty southwest winds combined with single-digit humidity will create
the potential for rapid growth and extreme fire behavior with any new fire in
the area.

Additional evacuation warnings were issued Sunday afternoon. Firefighters were, however, able to defend Mount Wilson over weekend, which overlooks greater Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains and has a historic observatory founded more than a century ago and numerous broadcast antennas serving Southern California.

Evacuation orders were issued for residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39; the unincorporated areas of Juniper Hills, Devils Punch Bowl and Paradise Springs; unincorporated areas of Crystal Lake, East Fork of the San Gabriel River and Camp Williams; south of Highway 138, north of Big Rock Creek, east of 87th Street East and west of Largo Vista Road; south of 138th Street East, north of Big Pine Highway and Highway 2, east of Largo Vista Road and west of 263rd Street East; and south of Highway 138, north of East Avenue W-14, east of 155th Street East and West of 165th Street East.

The following areas remained under evacuation warnings Sunday evening, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:

  • South of Pearblossom Highway, east and north of Angeles Forest Highway, north and west of Mt. Emma Road, east and south of Highway 122, and west of Cheseboro Road.
  • South of Highway 2, north of Blue Ridge Truck Trail, east of Highway 39, and west of the Los Angeles County border.
  • South of Avenue U-8, north of East Avenue W-14, east of 121st East, and west of 155th Street East.
  • South of Pearblossom Highway, south and east of Pearblossom Highway, north and west of Mt. Emma Road, north and east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Cheseboro Road.
  • South of Mt. Emma Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Pacifico Mountain.

On the fire's southern end, evacuation warnings were lifted Saturday for the communities of Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Monrovia, Bradbury and Duarte in the San Gabriel Valley, while the warnings for Altadena and Pasadena remained in effect.

The Bobcat Fire started Sept. 6 and has already doubled in size over the last week — becoming one of Los Angeles County's largest wildfires in history, according to the LA Times. No injuries have been reported.

The blaze is 15% contained as teams attempt to determine the scope of the destruction in the area about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of downtown LA. Thousands of residents in the foothill communities of the Antelope Valley were ordered to evacuate Saturday as winds pushed the flames into Juniper Hills.

Roland Pagan watched his Juniper Hills house burn through binoculars as he stood on a nearby hill, according to the Los Angeles Times .

“The ferocity of this fire was shocking,” Pagan, 80, told the newspaper. “It burned my house alive in just 20 minutes.”

Resident Perry Chamberlain evacuated initially but returned to extinguish a fire inside his storage container, according to one report, and ended up helping others put out a small fire in their horse stall.


Chamberlain said Juniper Hills had been like a majestic “sylvan forest” but the fire burned the Juniper and sage brush and a variety of trees.

“It used to be Juniper Hills,” he said. “Now it’s just Hills.”

The wildfire also destroyed the nature center at Devil’s Punchbowl Natural Area, a geological wonder that attracts some 130,000 visitors per year.

Though the Bobcat Fire neared the high desert community of Valyermo, a Benedictine monastery there appeared to have escaped major damage, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Statewide, nearly 19,000 firefighters continue to fight more than two dozen major wildfires. More than 7,900 wildfires have burned in California this year, including many since a mid-August barrage of dry lightning ignited parched vegetation.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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