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Pitched Battle for Mt. Wilson Against Bobcat Fire Continues Thursday Night

Flames flare close to Observatory during the fourth night of defending billion-dollar science and communication facility

Published on Friday, September 18, 2020 | 4:53 am
Flames atop Mt. Wilson illuminate the historic 60-foot solar tower about 10 p.m. Thursday night. (Image courtesy HPWREN, a University of California San Diego partnership project led by the San Diego Supercomputer Center and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography’s Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics)

Flames moved in on Mt. Wilson Thursday night as crews and engines defended the vital communications and scientific facility from the 60,557-acre Bobcat Fire for a fourth night.

“(The) fire is still impacting Mt. Wilson,” the Angeles National Forest tweeted about 10 p.m. Thursday “It is almost out of the critical section. Crews and engines are on-scene to defend infrastructure.

“Fire activity remained active around Mt. Wilson with crews and equipment working very hard to protect infrastructure,” the U.S. Forest Service reported. “Additionally, there is some strategic burning being used to expand containment lines.”

When a webcam captured a picture of huge flames dangerously close to the 60-foot solar tower about 9 p.m. Thursday, Mt. Wilson Observatory tweeted “#BobcatFire or back fire? We can’t tell from here, but we sure hope it’s the latter.”

Shortly after 10 p.m., Kerri Gilliland of the California Interagency Incident Management Team assigned to the Bobcat Fire said the firefighters were holding the line against the flames.

“It continued up towards Mount Wilson. We had significant fire activity. It was picking up in some of the timber screeners in the brush to make an uphill runs towards Mount Wilson. We utilized aircraft and resources throughout the day up towards Mount Wilson and we’ll have resources up there throughout the evening,” Gilliland said in a video posted on the ANF Twitter account.

Overall containment of the fire increased to 15% Friday after flames moved in on Mount Wilson but were contained, while evacuation orders remained in effect in the Antelope Valley.

Early Thursday afternoon, residents in the Juniper Hills, Paradise Springs and Devil’s Punchbowl areas were ordered evacuated, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The fire was reported to be growing northward.

Operations throughout the early morning will focus on the north end, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Evacuation warnings were also issued Thursday evening for the unincorporated area of Wrightwood, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department reported.

In the foothills, evacuation orders were lifted Wednesday for residents north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia and portions of Sierra Madre.

Pasadena officials continue to tell residents there is no danger imminent from the fire, which is now mostly heading away from the city, but say foothill neighborhoods should remain vigilant and prepared in case winds push the fire south.

Although Pasadena is still smoky, the health conditions have improved over the past 48 hours.

Pasadena City College announced it will reopen for students today, with COVID-19 precautions.

Pasadena Unified School District said that its LEARNS supervised care programs at all school campuses are canceled through Friday..

Pasadena Unified Grab & Go Food Centers, however,  will be open from 9-11 a.m. at John Muir High School, Field Elementary, Norma Coombs, Madison Elementary, McKinley School, and Wilson Middle School.

The U.S. Forest Service reported Thursday the fire crossed Highway 2 near the junction with Highway 39, into Pleasant View Wilderness, moving toward Juniper Hills and Devil’s Punchbowl.

Full containment of the fire, which will be achieved by way of cleared vegetation, was not estimated until Oct. 30, according to the U.S. Forest Service. Officials had earlier estimated full containment by Oct. 15 but revised that date on Sunday.

A closure order for all National Forests in Southern California was extended to Monday.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District extended its smoke advisory through Friday afternoon with most of its jurisdiction experiencing smoke impacts.

Monitoring the animals in outdoor habitats and are preparing to respond as necessary.”

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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