LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Firefighters battling the Bobcat Fire suffered a setback today when the extent of the fire's containment shrank from 6% to 3%, and they struggled to protect the infrastructure around Mt. Wilson as the wildfire was “knocking on our door'' at Mt. Wilson Observatory and creeping closer to broadcast towers valued at more than a billion dollars.
On Tuesday morning, the fire's size increased to 41,231 acres with 3% containment, down from 6% the previous day, according to the Angeles National Forest.
“Crews worked all night to keep the fire from reaching Mt. Wilson and the communities,'' the ANF tweeted about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. “Reduced containment is due to fire growth without our being able to increase containment lines.''
On Monday, the fire's size was listed at 38,299 acres, and containment of the blaze fell to 3%. It had risen to 6% Thursday, then remained unchanged until Monday night.
“Strategic firing operations (backfires being set by firefighters) are taking place to protect the infrastructure around Mt. Wilson,'' the Angeles National Forest tweeted late Monday night. “Firefighters are taking advantage of favorable weather conditions. Crews and equipment will be staffing the Bobcat Fire'' through the early morning hours.
The fire was moving “in the general direction of Mt. Wilson where it could possibly threaten the historic Observatory and broadcast towers worth over a billion dollar,'' KNX 1070's Pete Demetriou tweeted about 10:15 p.m. Monday.
“The Bobcat Fire is knocking on our door,'' Mount Wilson Observatory tweeted about 9:25 p.m. Monday. “Fire officials predicted that the fire would approach Mt. Wilson from Echo Rock. It looks like they are correct.''
All observatory personnel have been evacuated.
Fire engines were in place near the observatory to try to protect it, the U.S. Forest Service said.
The Arcadia Fire Department announced crews were “very successful and productive in keeping the fire front away from Arcadia homes. No homes have been damaged or impacted by fire. The evacuation order is still in effect.''
The fire crossed the contingency line Monday afternoon and started burning on the ridge line above the east side of Little Santa Anita Canyon, the U.S. Forest Service reported.
Residents of Monrovia, Bradbury, Altadena, Duarte, Pasadena and other San Gabriel Valley areas were advised to be ready to evacuate if flames spread their way.
An evacuation order was issued for Camp Williams in the San Gabriel Mountains in Azusa. The property includes a campground, mobile home park, café and general store on the East Fork of the San Gabriel River.
Sunday's evacuation order for Sierra Madre and Arcadia residents in an area north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue remained in effect for Arcadia residents and “until further notice,'' for Sierra Madre, officials said. The area includes parts of both cities.
The Arcadia Fire Department reported that 267 Arcadia homes had been evacuated.
Sierra Madre police said 32 homes were affected by the evacuation order in their city, where the City Council unanimously approved a declaration of a state of emergency on Sunday.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended its smoke advisory through Tuesday afternoon for portions of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, and the National Weather Service reported that a southeast upper level wind flow was pushing considerable smoke toward the Santa Clarita Valley, Acton and Antelope Valley on Monday afternoon.
The Los Angeles Zoo, which closed Sunday due to poor air quality and had hoped to reopen on Tuesday, said it would remain closed through Wednesday.
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.
A Red Cross evacuation center was established at the Santa Anita Park in Arcadia. Residents were advised to enter through Gate 5. More information about the center is available at 1-800-RED-CROSS (733-2767).
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she has signed a proclamation declaring a local emergency in the county because of the fire and requested a state proclamation. The proclamation will be subject to a ratification vote at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.
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.
Pasadena officials urged residents to be ready to leave at a moment's notice, while officials from multiple foothill communities reminded residents that it is illegal to fly drones over the fire area.
The Pasadena Humane Society said animal control workers would be stationed at the Red Cross evacuation zone to assist with the transport of displaced pets back to the Pasadena Humane shelter.
The abnormally dry vegetation has been fueling the blaze, leading to extreme fire behavior and rapid rates of spread.
Angeles Crest Highway 2 was closed from Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road to Big Pines, Highway 39 was closed at Old San Gabriel Canyon Road, and Glendora Ridge Road, Glendora Mountain Road, and Mount Wilson Road were closed, as well.
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