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Bobcat Fire: 29 structures damaged or destroyed as blaze burns 106K acres

The Bobcat Fire has destroyed or damaged at least 29 structures, and that number could climb into the 80s.

By Rachel Brown for ABC7 #los-angeles-ca – #anaheim-ca – #san-diego-ca – #torrance-ca – #santa-clarita-ca – #thousand-oaks-ca – #santa-barbara-ca – #simi-valley-ca

MONROVIA, Calif. (KABC) — The raging Bobcat Fire that erupted two weeks ago in the San Gabriel Mountains is now one of the largest ever in Los Angeles County after burning more than 106,000 acres.

The fire has destroyed or damaged at least 29 structures, many of them believed to be homes, and that number could climb into the 80s as the fire continues to spread and as fire officials continue to get a more accurate survey of its devastation.

By Monday evening, the fire’s containment estimate had dropped slightly to 13%, down from 15% the day before. Approximately 106,179 acres have burned.

Shifting winds Monday afternoon increased the threat to Mount Wilson. Fire officials said that while the fire continues to burn below the Mount Wilson Observatory, they will use a variety of techniques to make sure key infrastructure’ is protected.

Flames on Monday surrounded the observatory as firefighters made a stand to protect the historic site and home to a reported billion dollars-worth of communications infrastructure.

Crews started back fires as the ferocious blaze made another aggressive run towards the mountain top. A drone in the area forced officials to ground all aircraft for at least half an hour during the height of the fight.

The National Weather Service reported that winds near the observatory were blowing about 5-10 mph and relative humidity was at about 30%-35% Monday afternoon.

Fire officials warned that the flames would continue to spread from the Antelope Valley foothills into the communities of Juniper Hills, Valyermo and Big Pine. By Monday afternoon, the blaze prompted a new round of mandatory evacuation orders.

On the north side of the fire in the Antelope Valley, residents are returning to pick up the pieces, salvaging what they can after the flames ripped through Juniper Hills.

“That fire came over the hill so hard and fast that I turned around and I barely got my eight dogs and my two parrots out,” said Cheryl Poindexter, who lost her home in the blaze.

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Evacuation orders were added Monday afternoon for residents south and west of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road; east of Angeles Forest Highway; and north of Angeles Crest (2) Highway, according to the sheriff’s department.

Evacuation orders remained in place for residents:

— along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39
— in the unincorporated areas of Juniper Hills, Devils Punch Bowl, Paradise Springs, Crystal Lake, East Fork of the San Gabriel River, and Camp Williams
— south of Highway 138, north of Big Rock Creek, east of 87th Street East, and west of Largo Vista Road
— south of 138th Street East, north of Big Pine Highway and Highway 2, east of Largo Vista Road, and west of 263rd Street East
— south of Highway 138, north of East Avenue W-14, east of 155th Street East, and west of 165th Street East.

The following areas remained under evacuation warnings as of Monday, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department:

— Pasadena
— unincorporated communities of Altadena and Wrightwood
— south of Pearblossom Highway, north of Angeles Forest Highway, north and west of Mount Emma Road, east and south of Highway 122, and west of Cheseboro Road
— south of Highway 2, north of Blue Ridge Truck Trail, east of Highway 39, and west of the Los Angeles County border
— south of Avenue U-8, north of East Avenue W-14, east of 121st East, and west of 155th Street East
— south of Pearblossom Highway, south and east of Pearblossom Highway, north and west of Mt. Emma Road, north and east of Angeles Forest Highway, and west of Cheseboro Road
— south of Mount Emma Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, and west of Pacifico Mountain
– Littlerock: east of Cheseboro Road, south of Pearblossom Highway, north of Weber Ranch Road, west of 87th St E.

The Wrightwood area in San Bernardino County was also under an evacuation warning.

A Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Palmdale High School in the Antelope Valley, while the earlier evacuation point at Santa Anita Park for those in the San Gabriel Valley was closed. Anyone still needing assistance was urged to call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 800-675-5799.

A total of 1,513 personnel were assigned to the fire as of Monday evening.

A closure order has been issued for national forests in Southern California including the Angeles National Forest.

Meanwhile, a smoke advisory issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District has been extended through Tuesday afternoon due to the local wildfires. The smoke from the Bobcat Fire will directly impact cities from Burbank to Glendora, and smoke from the El Dorado Fire will continue to impact portions of the Inland Empire and the San Gorgonio Pass area.

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. Full containment of the fire is not expected until Oct. 30.