Containment lost as Bobcat Fire moves closer to homes, Mt. Wilson Observatory

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Containment for the 38,299-acre Bobcat Fire fell to 3% tonight as the blaze moved closer to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, as well as foothill communities.

Containment had risen to 6% Thursday then remained unchanged until Monday night.

The fire is “creeping” toward the Mt. Wilson Observatory, an official with the U.S. Forest Service said.

“Fire activity was heavy on the west side near Winter Creek and the Santa Anita Wash,” the U.S. Forest Service reported. The Los Angeles Times reported the blaze is about 1.6 miles from the Mt. Wilson Observatory.

Fire officials put engines in place near the observatory to try to protect it if the fire approaches, the official said.

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.

“Tonight, the priority will remain to protect communities south of the fire by continuing strategic fire operations and utilizing fixed wing aircraft,” the U.S. Forest Service said Monday night.

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, cafe 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 will remain in effect at least through Monday night 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.

The evacuation warning for residents north of Foothill Avenue, south of Elkins Avenue, and east of Santa Anita Avenue will be in effect until further notice, according to Arcadia officials.

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. The fire’s size was listed at 36,366 acres on Monday, up from 33,312 acres on Sunday.

“Crews today will be focused on protecting foothills communities and Mt. Wilson. To the north it stayed south of Highway 2 and west of 39,” according to an Angeles National Forest statement released Monday morning.

Fire officials were scheduled to hold a virtual public meeting via Zoom at 6:30 p.m. Monday to provide updates and answer residents’ questions so they don’t have to risk COVID-19 exposure in a large gathering.

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).

Multiple strike teams of firefighters were positioned through the north end of Arcadia and will continuously patrol and watch the wildland-urban interface, according to city officials, who also noted the Arcadia Police Department is providing security in the evacuated areas.

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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