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Monrovia, Duarte Foothill Communities On Alert As Bobcat Fire Continues Its Rapid Growth

MONROVIA (CBSLA) -- With powerful Santa Ana winds expected to create challenges for firefighters Tuesday, the Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest north of Monrovia nearly doubled in size for the second straight day.

Bobcat Fire
The sun is seen behind smoke from the Bobcat fire rising above in the Angeles National Forest above Duarte, California, about 27 miles (43 km) northeast of Los Angeles, September 7, 2020. - Eight national forests in California have been closed as firefighters battle blazes across the state which is in the grips of a record-setting heat wave. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Bobcat Fire has burned 10,344 acres and still had zero containment as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The fire is churning through some vegetation and brush which has not burned in more 60 years.

"The canyons that this fire has lined up with -- Monrovia Canyon, Santa Anita Canyon, Little Santa Anita Canyon -- those canyons have not burned since 1957 in the Monrovia Peak Fire," Angeles National Forest Chief Robert Garcia said Monday.

Structures were threatened, but it's unclear if any had been damaged or destroyed. On Monday night, the U.S. Forest Service and the L.A. County Fire Department issued an evacuation warning Monday night for foothill neighborhoods in Monrovia and Duarte. Residents were told to be ready to evacuate at a moments notice.

That included the neighborhoods north of Hillcrest Boulevard and north of Greystone Avenue, along with those between Hillcrest Boulevard and Greystone Avenue, south to Foothill Boulevard.

It also includes the Duarte Mesa, which is the area of Mt. Olive north of Woodlyn Lane in Bradbury.

On Tuesday night the evacuation warning was expanded to include foothill communities in Pasadena, Altadena, Arcadia and Sierra Madre.

"I did see the flames lasts night, up on the ridge, that was a little dicey," Monrovia resident Karen Karlsson told CBSLA Tuesday, who has lived in her home for 52 years.

Sierra Madre resident Mike Peinado said he and his wife are on pins and needles, waiting to see if the Santa Ana winds push the fire into their neighborhood.

"I hate to leave my house, but if it's a must we will move," he said.

The foothill neighborhoods have been covered with ash, and the air has been smokey, from both the Bobcat Fire and the pyrotechnic-caused El Dorado Fire burning near Yucaipa.

Firefighters received some relief overnight Monday as the blaze which was spreading south towards Monrovia was slowed by the marine layer. However, the relief may be short-lived.

"It's obviously not as hot as it has been but we can't take that for granted," said L.A. County Fire Captain David Dantic. "With the Santa Ana's, it has that erratic behavior, so we have to be concerned."

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning which takes effect at noon Tuesday and runs through 8 p.m. Wednesday. During this time Santa Ana winds will create ripe wildfire conditions with very low humidity that could help spread the blaze.

"The Santa Ana winds worry me a lot," said Bob Bell, who lives in Bradbury. "When they kick up, I don't think firefighters have a chance. They have to wait until they calm down before they can really attack the fire."

Santa Anita Park has been designated as a Red Cross evacuation site for anyone who is seeking shelter.

The blaze broke out a little after noon Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures near the Cogswell Dam and the West Fork Day Use area. California Highway Patrol officers helped campers evacuate quickly before sundown.

The cause is under investigation.

The Angeles National Forest, meanwhile, was closed Monday night to the public along with all seven other national forests across California due to the wildfire risk. The closure will last through Sept. 14.

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