LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Bobcat Fire, one of the largest fires in Los Angeles County history, has grown to 109,271 acres with containment increasing to 17%, authorities said today.
The fire, which is burning in the Angeles National Forest and threatening communities in the Antelope Valley and San Gabriel Valley foothills, has destroyed or damaged 29 structures, with authorities fearing the number could rise to 85. Information was not available regarding how many of the burned structures were homes. That assessment was expected to be completed by Wednesday.
“Crews aircraft and equipment worked through the evening picking up (hot) spots and securing the lines,'' the Angeles National Forest said in a statement Tuesday morning.
The fire has burned more acres than the Woolsey Fire of 2018, which burned 96,271 acres, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said Tuesday. The Station Fire in 2009 burned 160,577 acres.
The fire came down from the Angeles National Forest into the communities of Cima Mesa, Juniper Hills, Pearblossom, and Devil's Punchbowl on Friday and damaged some structures, the LACFD's Vince Pena said Monday evening. “We're still currently aggressively assessing the damage from that,'' he said.
The Nature Center at the Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area was burned by the fire, Los Angeles County parks officials said. The area is closed until further notice.
“Firefighters will focus on the SW and NE corners of the #BobcatFire today,'' the ANF tweeted at about 9 a.m. Tuesday. “Expect to see smoke plumes and aircraft north of Mt. Wilson as crews engage in strategic firing operations.''
The U.S. Forest Service reported Tuesday afternoon that the defensive firing operation was “going well at Mt. Wilson. They're using aerial ignitions to increase the buffer between HWY 2 near Barley Flat to Big Tujunga Road.''
The blaze advanced on Mount Wilson on Monday while prompting fresh evacuation orders as officials worked to prevent the flames from spreading out of the Antelope Valley foothills.
“The Bobcat Fire has picked up again and is making its way toward the northwest slope of the Mt. Wilson Drainage. Cal Fire is planning another strategic firing operation on the north/northwest slope of Mt. Wilson. Resources have made their way back to the lower parking lot,'' Mount Wilson Observatory representatives wrote on Twitter Monday.
Mount 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.
Two private drones being flown in the area late Monday morning prompted the 30-minute grounding of a fixed-wing aircraft and the diversion of other aircraft resources to the northwest part of the fire as a precaution, a fire official said.
There was no immediate word on who was operating the drones.
The U.S. Forest Service reported shortly before 2 p.m. Monday that the aircraft was back in the air.
Evacuation orders were added Monday afternoon for residents south and west of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road; east of Angeles Forest Highway; and north of Angeles Crest (2) Highway, according to the sheriff's department.
Evacuation orders remained in place for residents:
-- along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39;
-- in the unincorporated areas and communities of Juniper Hills, Crystal Lake, East Fork of the San Gabriel River, Camp Williams, Valyermo and Llano (except for the Longview section, which is under an evacuation warning);
-- south and west of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, east of Angeles Forest Highway and north of Angeles Crest Highway
The following areas remained under evacuation warnings as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:
-- Pasadena and Altadena: north of Sierra Madre Boulevard, west of Michillinda Avenue, east of Washingtom Boulevard, north of New York Drive, as well as north of New York Drive and Woodbury Drive, east of Hahamongna Watershed Park;
-- Littlerock: south of Pearblossom Highway, north of Weber Ranch Road, east of Cheseboro Road, west of 87th Street East;
-- south of Highway 2, north of Blue Ridge Truck Trail, east of Highway 39, and west of the Los Angeles County border;
-- Longview: 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 Mount Emma Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, and west of Pacifico Mountain.
The Wrightwood area in San Bernardino County was also under an evacuation warning.
A smoke advisory was extended through Wednesday warning of unhealthy air in the San Gabriel Mountains, and for sensitive individuals in the San Gabriel Valley, Santa Clarita Valley and Antelope 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.''
Relatively mild temperatures were expected Tuesday, with southwest winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour in the Antelope Valley. Warmer and drier conditions were expected Wednesday and Thursday, with southwesterly and upcanyon winds, according to the National Weather Service.
A total of 1,513 personnel were assigned to the fire as of Tuesday.
A closure order has been issued for national forests in Southern California, including the Angeles National Forest.
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. Full containment is not expected until Oct. 30.
Photo: Getty Images