LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Crews continued Friday to make headway in combatting the Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest and Antelope Valley foothills, as evacuation orders were lifted for several neighborhoods.
The Bobcat Fire has now burned 113,986 Acres and is 55% contained, up from 50% containment on Thursday. At least 47 homes have been destroyed.
“A focus of our efforts today and tomorrow will be securing the west side of the fire before winds shift to the northeast Sunday,” the U.S. Forest Service wrote on its incident information page.
Firefighters were also continuing to secure containment lines around the Mount Wilson Observatory and several television and radio broadcast towers worth an estimated $1 billion. Although the flames got very close to the Observatory on several occasions last week, crews held their ground and saved the historic building and the surrounding broadcast towers.
Firefighters were conducting strategic firing operations as well to keep the fire from using unburnt vegetation to make a run at fire lines. They were using fire-dropping helicopters to strategically light up parts of the rugged mountainside to keep it from spreading in dangerous directions.
“Normally when you see smoke, that’s a very bad thing,” L.A. County Fire Inspector Sky Cornell said Thursday. “But today, that’s actually a good thing. That means we’re doing our job. We’ve got firefighters here using fire to fight fire.”
There are about 1,575 personnel battling the blaze with the help of 11 water dropping helicopters and several retardant-dropping tankers.
The Bobcat Fire, one of the largest in L.A. County history, 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. It first threatened the San Gabriel foothill communities of Arcadia and Monrovia to the south, before turning its attention north to the Antelope Valley.
On Wednesday, SoCal Edison revealed that federal investigators are looking into a disturbance at a nearby substation which occurred mere minutes before the fire was reported.
The initial report of fire was at 12:21 p.m. on Sept. 6. The utility says five minutes earlier, at 12:16 p.m., a circuit at the substation experienced a possible disturbance or event. Edison says cameras captured smoke developing in the area around 12:10 p.m., prior to the activity on Edison’s circuit.
Meanwhile, the Angeles National Forest is one of nine national forests in California which will remain closed for the foreseeable future, USFS announced Friday. Earlier this month, all 18 of the state’s national forests were closed to the public due to the wildfires burning up and down the state. Half of them have since reopened.
The following areas remain under mandatory evacuation orders Friday morning:
- South of Fort Tejon Road and E. Avenue W-14, east of 87th Street E., west of 165th Street E, and north of the forest.
- South of Highway 138, east of 165th Street E., 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
- Residences along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.