Fri. Sep 25th, 2020

Calif.’s Bobcat Fire Moves Closer To Homes, Historic Mount Wilson Observatory Threatened

Firefighters battling the Bobcat Fire suffered a setback Tuesday when the extent of the fire’s containment shrank from 6% to 3%, and they struggled to protect the infrastructure at Mt. Wilson Observatory as flames crept closer to broadcast towers valued at more than a billion dollars.

Meanwhile, a 500- to 1,000-acre spot fire crossed Angeles Crest (2) Highway, and crews were “actively engaged in suppressing it,” according to the U.S. Forest Service.

On Tuesday morning, the fire’s size increased to 41,231 acres with 3% containment, down from 6% the previous day, according to the Angeles National Forest.

At 12:31 p.m. Tuesday, the ANF tweeted: “The #BobcatFire is within 500 ft of the Mt. Wilson Observatory & crews are in place ready to receive the fire. Strategic firing is taking place in the south where air operations are strengthening dozerlines. Crews are working a spot fire that crossed Hwy 2 near Buckhorn.”

Observatory personnel were evacuated. Mount Wilson is home to infrastructure that transmits cell-phone signals and television and radio broadcasting for the greater Los Angeles Area.

Tuesday’s primary focus for firefighters was keeping the fire from reaching Mt. Wilson and the foothill communities to the south. Evacuation warnings remained in place in Pasadena, Altadena, Monrovia, Bradbury, Sierra Madre and Duarte.

An evacuation order for Sierra Madre and Arcadia residents in an area north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue remained in effect 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, and said crews were “very successful and productive in keeping the fire front away from Arcadia homes. No homes have been damaged or impacted by fire. The evacuation order is still in effect.”

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.

Some 1,091 firefighting personnel were engaged in the effort by Tuesday afternoon. A secondary priority Tuesday was keeping the fire south of Highway 2.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended its smoke advisory through Wednesday for most areas of Los Angeles County, even the coasts.

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.

County officials also said three COVID-19 testing sites would be closed Wednesday — at the Pomona Fairplex, the San Gabriel Valley Airport and in Panorama City.

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.

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.

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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett

Photographs are Courtesy: AP

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