LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest was 79% contained this morning and has blackened 114,901 acres, with pockets of fire burning near Mt. Wilson causing more smoke to be present over the Altadena area throughout the weekend.
“Isolated pockets of fire are still present in the Mt. Wilson area on the northern slope and firefighting priorities are to protect the observatory and communications sites there,'' the United States Forest Service said Friday.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Altadena Station informed residents “the higher volume of smoke is from a fire flare up in the Angeles Crest Highway and Red Box Road area near Mt. Wilson.
“The flare up is contained by fire crews in an approximate five mile perimeter and is not moving out of the containment or toward the Altadena or Crescenta Valley areas.”
The department said the burning will continue “throughout the weekend causing more smoke over Altadena than previously seen in the last few days.”
Firefighters reported minimal fire activity and no fire growth on Friday and, combined with forecast lower temperatures this weekend and light winds, the fire was not expected to grow significantly, the USFS said.
The fire threatened communities in the Antelope Valley and foothills of the San Gabriel Valley.
The estimated containment date was pushed back to Oct. 30 earlier this week as firefighters braced for challenging conditions brought on by a week of low humidity and high temperatures. Officials had previously estimated full containment by Wednesday.
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As of Friday, evacuation orders remained for residents:
-- in Paradise Springs -- south of Big Pines Highway, east of Devil's Punchbowl, west of Largo Vista Road, and north of the forest;
-- south and west of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon, east of Angeles Forest Highway, and north of Angeles Crest Highway; and
-- residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.
Evacuation warnings remained:
-- south of Big Pines Highway, east of Largo Vista Road, west of 263rd Street East (county line), and north of the forest;
-- south of Mt. Emma Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Pacifico Mountain; and
-- East Fork Areas: Julius Klein Conservation Camp 19, Camp Williams and the River Community.
Flames have destroyed 162 structures and affected another 47 in the Antelope Valley area, with seven sustaining minor damage and five major damage, according to the USFS. Of the buildings destroyed, 83 were residential.
A map, which is compiled from ongoing field damage inspection and subject to change, can be viewed at lacounty.gov/recovery/damage-inspection/.
The Nature Center at the Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area was burned by the fire and is closed until further notice, Los Angeles County parks officials said.
Also, the Angeles National Forest extended its temporary Forest Closure Order to Oct. 8. The Forest is closed to all general activity, including developed campgrounds and day-use sites due to wildfire threat, and the use of any ignition sources -- such as campfires and gas stoves – is prohibited.
Thirty-three members of California's congressional delegation, including Rep. Judy Chu, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, wrote a letter to President Donald Trump this week urging him to support Gov. Gavin Newsom's request for a Major Disaster Declaration to respond to the wildfires raging in California, including the Bobcat Fire, which is burning in Chu's district.
The Bobcat Fire erupted on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area northeast of Mt. Wilson and within the Angeles National Forest. The cause is still under investigation, but officials are investigating an equipment issue experienced by Southern California Edison around the time the fire broke out.
“SCE submitted Sept. 15 an initial electric safety incident report to the California Public Utilities Commission. SCE is required to submit a report to the CPUC on certain types of incidents including those receiving significant media attention like a wildfire which may involve utility facilities,” SCE spokesman David Song told City News Service.
“On Sunday, Sept. 6, at 12:21 p.m. the Bobcat Fire was reported in the vicinity of Cogswell Reservoir/Dam in the Angeles National Forest. A section of SCE's circuit experienced a relay operation at 12:16 p.m. on Sept. 6. However, the Mt. Wilson East camera captured the initial stages of the fire, with the first observed smoke at least as early as 12:10 p.m., prior to any activity on our circuit,” Song said.
“On Sept. 15, U.S. Forest Service personnel requested the removal of a section of SCE's overhead conductor in the vicinity of Cogswell Dam. This occurred on Sept. 16, 2020. The cause of the fire, located in a high fire risk area, will be investigated by the U.S. Forest Service, and the company will cooperate fully with that investigation.”