MONROVIA (CNS) - The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest grew to 8,553 acres with no containment today, as forecasters warned of approaching Santa Ana winds and issued a red flag warning through Wednesday.
The Forest Service estimates that the fire -- which broke out at midday Sunday near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area -- will not be fully contained until Oct. 15.
Fire officials put some Monrovia residents on notice that they may be ordered to evacuate if the fire spreads south.
Evacuations were already ordered for residents and Angeles National Forest visitors from Big Santa Anita Canyon, Mt. Wilson, San Gabriel Canyon, and Monrovia Canyon.
Officials also said Tuesday that the full closure of the Angeles National Forest -- announced Monday along with those of several other national forests in California due to ongoing fire danger across the state -- will be in effect until Sept. 14.
Structures were being threatened by the fire, according to Angeles National Forest officials.
A moderate Santa Ana wind event was expected Tuesday and Wednesday, with northeast winds increasing Tuesday afternoon across the mountains and valleys, before spreading into the coastal areas Tuesday night and Wednesday. The strongest winds were expected Tuesday night and Wednesday morning with gusts between 35 and 55 mph.
On Monday night, incident commanders issued a warning directing Monrovia residents in the foothill area below the Bobcat Fire to be prepared to evacuate due to rapid fire growth with a potential threat to life and/or property.
Monrovia city officials said the first phase of evacuations would affect all residents north of Hillcrest Boulevard and north of Greystone Avenue. The second phase would impact all residents between Hillcrest Boulevard and Greystone Avenue south to Foothill Boulevard.
Residents under the warning were urged to have evacuation plans in place, organize their emergency evacuation supplies, and have essential evacuation personal belongings easily accessible. Vehicles should be fully fueled, facing out in their driveways and ready to take people and pets to designated evacuation sites, or to family and friends' homes outside the fire area.
Those with large animals were urged to begin moving them to safety as accommodations are made at the Pomona Fairgrounds and Santa Anita Racetrack with limited capacity.
Officials with the National Weather Service said the Mount Wilson Observatory was also under evacuation orders Monday.
Other national forests ordered closed were the San Bernardino National Forest, Cleveland National Forest, Los Padres National Forest, Inyo National Forest, Sequoia National Forest, Sierra National Forest and Stanislaus National Forest.
Restrictions were also imposed on national forest lands throughout the state that were not ordered to close.
U.S. Forest Service officials said all ignition sources, such as campfires and gas stoves, will be prohibited across national forest system lands in California.
Developed campgrounds and day-use sites in national forests throughout the state will also be closed
“The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously. Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire,'' said Randy Moore, regional forester for the Pacific Southwest Region.
As of Tuesday morning, the fire was burning in extremely steep terrain in the west fork of the San Gabriel drainage, burning actively north into the San Gabriel Wilderness, and south towards Mt. Bliss.
The Glendale (2) Freeway was closed from 10.6 miles east of La Canada-Flintridge to Islip Saddle. Highway 39 was closed at Canyon Entrance Station.
Regulators warned of unhealthy air quality in the San Gabriel Mountains, the east San Gabriel Valley and the Pomona-Walnut Valley.
“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, health officer for Los Angeles County.
“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.''
Photo: Getty Images