DUARTE (CBSLA) – The Bobcat Fire burning north of Monrovia in the Angeles National Forest continued to spread, but firefighters were expected to see more favorable weather conditions Thursday.
The fire has burned 23,890 acres with 6% containment, according to the latest numbers from U.S. Forest Service.
Overnight Wednesday, the fire spread northeast, crossing Highway 39, with heavy fire activity towards the Crystal Lake Recreation Area.
“Fire crews will take advantage of favorable weather conditions today as a Red Flag Warning for the area no longer remains in effect,” USFS wrote. “Warm and dry conditions along with low humidity remain. A northeast wind flow is expected over the fire with gusts up to 20 mph predicted for the afternoon.
Evacuation warnings were still in effect for the San Gabriel foothill communities of Duarte, Bradbury, Monrovia, Sierra Madre, Pasadena, Altadena and Arcadia. People living in those areas should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
However, with the fire moving away from the city, Arcadia Wednesday afternoon lifted voluntary evacuation orders for residents north of Foothill Boulevard and east of Santa Anita Avenue.
Voluntary evacuation orders for Sierra Madre residents north of Grandview Avenue remained in place Thursday.
Areas across the Southland are experiencing smoke-filled skies and poor air quality due to the fire.
UNHEALTHY AIR: People are exercising outside at Foothill gym in Monrovia despite the unhealthy air quality. One block down, Old Town Pizza posted a sign alerting customers takeout is the only option today. Smoke & ash from the #BobcatFire blankets the town & surrounding areas pic.twitter.com/VZQ5QQLgnl
— Alex Biston (@AlexBistonTV) September 10, 2020
“It smells like someone’s got a fire pit going on,” said April Montes, who sat outside at a Monrovia restaurant Thursday afternoon.
The normally bustling area of downtown Monrovia was quiet, as many opted to stay indoors due to the smoke and ash.
“Monrovia is busy at lunch time…but this is a ghost town,” Montes said.
Not only is the air quality reaching unhealthy levels in the San Gabriel Valley, much of the state is being affected.
“You have regional smoke high up in the atmosphere from the Northern California fires that everybody in Southern California is seeing,” said Dr. Phillip Fine from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. “Plus, if you’re closer to some of the local fires…you’re getting a lot of local impact.”
Dr. Fine said that fire containment will determine how much longer the smoke-filled air will last.
“We need to get the smoke to stop being created by the fire. So, when the fire goes out, that’s when we’ll really know that we’re not gonna have impacts,” he said. “But until then, with the shifting wind directions, sometimes stagnant conditions overnight, we still could get some significant impacts.”
More than 530 firefighters are battling the blaze with the help of water-dropping helicopters and air tankers dropping fire retardant.
The Bobcat Fire broke out a little after noon Sunday amid triple-digit temperatures near the Cogswell Dam and the West Fork Day Use area. The fire is churning through thick vegetation and brush in steep terrain, some of which has not burned in more 60 years.
Santa Ana winds Tuesday and Wednesday which prompted a red flag warning created major challenges for firefighters. However, the Santa Ana winds died down Wednesday night and the red flag warning was lifted.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation. The Red Cross has established a temporary evacuation center at Santa Anita Park.
Meanwhile, with a historic number of wildfires burning up and down the state, the U.S. Forest Service has closed all 18 of California’s national forests to the public for an unknown amount of time.