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Bobcat fire grows to 33,000 acres; evacuations in Arcadia, Sierra Madre

The Bobcat fire rages above Rincon Fire Station on Highway 39 on Wednesday in the San Gabriel Mountains.
(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times)

Residents in portions of Arcadia and Sierra Madre were told to evacuate Sunday morning as the Bobcat fire in the Angeles National Forest posed new dangers.

People living north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue should leave because of “dangerous wildfire conditions,” the city said. “Residents in the area are advised to use Santa Anita Ave. to leave the area.”

The orders affected about 350 households, officials said. Other foothill cities, including Monrovia, Bradbury, Altadena, Duarte and Pasadena, remained under evacuation warnings.

An American Red Cross evacuation site has been set up at the Santa Anita race track.

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Water-dropping helicopters pounded the fire through the day, with hand crews on the front lines as the blaze inches closer to some structures at the edge of the forest.

The fire was burning north and east toward Highways 2 and 39 and southwest toward the cities of Arcadia and Sierra Madre. The southwestern flank was ripping through steep terrain and dry fuels in an area that hadn’t burned in 60 to 80 years, said David Dantic, public information officer for the Bobcat fire.

Firefighters were scrambling to keep the blaze from reaching the foothill communities to the south.

“That is the plan and that is our main objective right now,” Dantic said. “We do not want that fire to reach those communities.”

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The fire had burned more than 33,000 acres as of Sunday and was 6% contained. Fire officials said Sunday morning the fire was “active throughout the night, continuing to burn downhill toward Monrovia and north toward Route 2 in the Buckhorn Flat area. Significant western growth toward Mt Wilson.”

Arcadia is one of several foothill communities where hillside residents have been on evacuation warning because of the fire for several days. Many of those warnings remain in effect.

The blaze continues to create poor air quality across the Los Angeles Basin.

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The South Coast Air Quality Management District forecast moderate-to-unhealthful air for a large swath of the region, including central Los Angeles and the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys. Conditions will be somewhat better along the coast and in Orange County.

Although that forecast marks an improvement in some areas, officials said the smoke was still a major concern.

Weather conditions are expected to be stable over the next couple days, with winds remaining light to moderate, said Kathy Hoxsie, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“That’s because we have high pressure over the area so we don’t have an air mass trying to move from one place to another or squeeze through canyons,” Hoxsie said.

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That’s good news for the firefight but it also means that the smoke will linger over the area until at least Wednesday, when winds are expected to start picking up, she said.

The Los Angeles Zoo announced Saturday that it would not open Sunday or Monday because of the unhealthful air quality but hoped to reopen Tuesday. A statement from the zoo said that anyone who had tickets or a reservation for a closed date could request a refund or reschedule.

Poor air quality also contributed to the closure of eight parks in L.A. County: Eaton Canyon, Devil’s Punchbowl, Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, Lario Staging Area, Marshall Canyon, Peck Road Water Conservation Park, San Dimas Canyon Natural Area and Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health warned residents to stay indoors as much as possible and limit physical exertion, indoors or out.

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“If you can see smoke, soot or ash, or you can smell smoke, pay attention to your immediate environment and take precautions to safeguard your health,” said county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis. “These precautions are particularly important for children, older adults, and people with heart or lung diseases.”

Davis also advised day camps in smoke-affected areas to suspend outside activities, such as hiking or picnics.


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