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Pasadena Officials Keep Cautious Eye on Bobcat Fire, Warn of Bad Air Quality

Published on Monday, September 7, 2020 | 7:51 am
The Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National Forest, pictured on Sept. 6. 2020. (Credit: U.S. Forest Service)

[Updated]  Authorities in Pasadena were keeping a close eye on the 4,800-acre Bobcat Fire burning in the Angeles National Forest on Monday as smoke and raining ash created unhealthy conditions throughout the region.

The wildfire sparked Sunday afternoon at the east end of the Cogswell Reservoir, in the forest north of Azusa and Duarte, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

It had consumed more than 4,871 acres as of Monday morning, according to the agency. It was 0% contained. Winds were pushing it toward the northeast and away from the foothills, according to Cal Fire.

While the fire remained miles from the city limits, “We’re closely monitoring the Bobcat fire because significant wind could cause that fire to pose a threat to Pasadena,” city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian said.

“We’re not trying to scare, but want to prepare residents for this fire or another that could potentially occur in our foothills,” she said. “We have added extra patrols and are in constant contact with our neighboring fire departments including the [U.S.] Forest Service.”

The ash and smoke from the wildfire, however, had already arrived in Pasadena on Monday.

Ash covered cars and officials warned the air quality resulting from the fire was unhealthy, coupled with temperatures expected to climb to near triple-digits on Monday.

“Take precautions and avoid exercising altogether outside and minimize exposure to the outdoors unless absolutely necessary,” Derderian said.

Burn area map:

Pets can track ash into homes, Derderian added, so it’s a good idea to clean their paws before they come inside.

Paramedics have treated several runners who became overcome by heat-related illness while running at the Rose Bowl loop, as well as a person who overheated while performing landscaping work, she said. “Now’s not the time to catch up on your outside chores.”

Staff at the Mount Wilson Observatory were told to evacuate Monday morning, observatory representatives said via social media. The facility was already closed to the public due to th COVID-19 pandemic.

Renowned seismologist Lucy Jones weighed in on the importance of the institution.

“Caltech operates the Mount Wilson seismic station. It has recorded all the important California earthquakes for 100 years,” she said via Twitter. “The #Bobcat fire threatens to destroy it today.”

“The building may be old but the instrumentation inside is state of the art,” she said.No Red Flag parking restrictions were in place due to the fire risk, but they remained a possibility, especially with a Santa Ana wind event predicted to begin over the next day, according to Interim Chief Bryan Frieders.

Fire officials were keeping in touch with the National Weather Service to monitor conditions as they change, he added.

As temperatures reached 116 degrees in Pasadena on Sunday afternoon, the extreme heat was suspected of spontaneously setting off a fire sprinkler system in the second floor of a commercial building at Colorado Boulevard and Pasadena Avenue, Derderian said. The building was unoccupied at the time and did not have air conditioning running.

A strike team of Pasadena firefighters remained assigned to help defend structures at the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County, which was 7,386 acres in size and 7% contained on Monday, according to Cal Fire. They departed for the blaze on Saturday night.

The cause of the Bobcat Fire was not available. Officials told the Los Angeles Times that the El Dorado Fire was blamed on a pyrotechnic device that was used as part of a gender reveal party at a park in Yucaipa.

All Southern California national forests, including the Angeles National Forest, were temporarily closed, effective 5 p.m. Monday, due to the fires and ongoing fire danger, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

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