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Fresh Evacuation Issued As Stubborn Bobcat Fire Containment Delayed

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Authorities issued new mandatory evacuation orders Thursday in the stubborn Bobcat Fire as flames continued to threaten homes in the Antelope Valley.

Bobcat Fire
People dine at tables set up in the parking lot of a restaurant as smoke rises from the Bobcat Fire burning in the San Gabriel mountains in the distance, in Monrovia, California on September 16, 2020. - California faces more devastation from wildfires that have ravaged the West Coast, authorities warned on September 16, with strong winds and dry heat expected to whip up flames from dozens of blazes raging across the state. (Photo by RINGO CHIU / AFP) (Photo by RINGO CHIU/AFP via Getty Images)

The Bobcat Fire has burned 55,617 acres and was 9% contained as of Thursday evening. Authorities have now revised their full containment expectations until late October. Despite some close calls, no homes have been destroyed so far.

Evacuations were ordered for residents in the foothill areas just north of the fire, including for the community of Juniper Hills in the southeast Antelope Valley.

Residents in Paradise Springs, including the areas east of Devils Punchbowl Road, south of Big Pines Highway, north of the Big Rock Creek and west of Jackson Lake were also told to evacuate.

"We're all set, we packed early this morning, we got everything together, all of our valuables, things we wanted to have, paperwork and stuff like that, pictures," said Juniper Hills resident Peter Trono, who has lived in the area for 36 years.

He said he and his 96-year-old mother are prepared to leave at a moment's notice.

"Last night, we saw the flames on the ridge line itself and that's where we became really concerned," he said. "I hope my neighbors all get out and they're all safe, and I just pray we come back to a home and if we don't, it's just stuff, right?"

The fire crossed Highway 2 near the junction with Highway 39, which is south of Juniper Hills, officials said.

These are in addition to evacuation warnings which have been in place for several days now for the San Gabriel foothill communities of Monrovia, Bradbury, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Altadena, Duarte and Pasadena.

Fire officials said on Thursday that they are primarily fighting the fire with air drops to get a line around it. They say once the fire makes it to the desert floor, it should hopefully slow down.

There was some good news in the firefight, as evacuation orders were lifted Wednesday afternoon for about 300 homes in Arcadia and Siera Madre which had been in place since Sunday.

"Welcome home Arcadia," the Arcadia Fire Department tweeted Wednesday evening. "Continue to be vigilant and stay alert as Arcadia remains in an evacuation warning status should fire conditions change."

Meanwhile, to the west of the fire, crews continued to successfully protect the historic Mount Wilson Observatory and the nearby television and radio broadcast towers which are valued at about $1 billion.

On Tuesday, the flames got within 500 feet of the Observatory.

"The area around Mt. Wilson and the southwestern edge of the fire remains active where crews continue to protect the Mt. Wilson Observatory infrastructure," the U.S. Forest Service wrote on its incident information page Wednesday.

At the north end of the fire, the focus was to try to contain the spot fires across Highway 2 after an approximately 1,000-acre spot fire crossed the highway Tuesday in the Cooper Canyon area.

Meanwhile, all 18 National Forests in California will remain closed through at least Monday, Sept. 21, due to the historic number of wildfires burning up and down the state. All 18 national forests have been closed since Sept. 9.

On Wednesday, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom reported that over 3.3 million acres have burned so far this year.

The Bobcat Fire broke out a little after noon on Sept. 6 amid triple-digit temperatures near the Cogswell Dam and the West Fork Day Use area. The fire is churning through thick vegetation and dry brush in steep terrain, some of which has not burned in more 60 years.

The cause is under investigation.

Meanwhile, the South Coast Air Quality Management District extended a smoke advisory into Thursday for nearly all of L.A. County. Thick smoke and ash continues to hang over the foothill neighborhoods just south of the Angeles National Forest.

Evacuation Orders:

  • Residences within the area north of Angeles Crest North and between Clear Creek Station and Hwy 39.
  • A Red Cross Evacuation Center has been established at Santa Anita Park, located at 285 W. Huntington Dr. in Arcadia. To reach Red Cross LA, call 1-800-675-5799.

Evacuation Warnings:

  • The foothill communities of Monrovia, Bradbury, Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Altadena, Duarte and Pasadena.
  • Residents north of Foothill Blvd. and east of Santa Anita Ave.
  • Residents of Juniper Hills, South of Fort Tejon Rd East of 96th St. East, and south of Valyermo Rd. west of Bobs Gap Rd.

Road Closures:

  • Highway 2 closed from east of Angeles Forest Highway to Big Pines.
  • Highway 39 closed from San Gabriel River Bridge to Highway 2.
  • Upper Big Tujunga Cyn Rd closed Angeles Forest Highway to Highway 2.
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