LOS ANGELES, CA— The Bobcat Fire forced Arcadia and Sierra Madres residents to flee their homes Sunday morning. Despite a pitched battle overnight to keep the massive forest fire from raging into populated communities, residents were ordered to evacuate Sunday morning.
The blaze continues to burn downhill toward communities in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. At about 10 a.m., the city of Arcadia ordered all residents north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue to evacuate. They were advised to use Santa Anita Avenue to leave the area. Several other foothill communities remain poised to flee as well. Evacuation warnings were in effect for Monrovia, Bradbury, Sierra Madre, Altadena, Duarte and Pasadena. An evacuation order was also issued for Camp Williams. The fire continues to cause unhealthy air throughout the Southland, and Los Angeles County residents are advised to avoid the outdoors Sunday.
Pasadena officials urged residents to be ready to leave at a moment's notice, while officials from multiple foothill communities reminded residents that it is illegal to fly drones over the fire area.
The blaze burned downhill overnight toward Monrovia and north toward State Route 2 in the Buckhorn Area, with "significant" western growth toward Mt. Wilson, Angeles National Forest officials reported. By Sunday morning, the Bobcat Fire had burned 31,991 acres in the Angeles National Forest and was 6% contained. Fire officials don't expect full containment until Oct. 15, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
"The #BobcatFire is most active near Big Santa Anita Canyon. Crews, supported by aircraft, will engage in strategic firing along the SW edge of the fire. Smoke will clear out earlier than previous days, increasing fire activity," they tweeted Sunday morning.
Officials said that as air conditions allow, helicopters were being used to support ground forces, and that Sunday's focus would be on keeping the fire south of Highway 2 and west of Highway 39.
Abnormally dry fuels were leading to extreme fire behavior and rapid rates of spread.
Angeles Crest Highway 2 was closed from Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road to Big Pines, Highway 39 was closed at Old San Gabriel Canyon Road, and Glendora Ridge Road, Glendora Mountain Road, and Mount Wilson Road were closed.
A Red Cross evacuation center was established at Santa Anita Race Track, located at 285 W. Huntington Drive. Residents were advised to enter through Gate 5. More information about the center was available at 1-800-RED- CROSS (733-2767). The Pasadena Humane Society said animal control workers would be stationed at the Red Cross evacuation zone to assist with the transport of displaced pets back to the Pasadena Humane shelter.
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.
A smoke advisory remained in effect Sunday in most of Los Angeles County and parts of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as the fire spews smoke and ash into the atmosphere, creating unhealthy conditions.
Los Angeles officials were opening "Smoke Relief Centers" at the following Department of Recreation and Parks sites from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday:
-- South LA Sports Activity Center, 7020 S Figueroa St.
-- Branford Recreation Center, 13306 Branford St., Arleta
-- Lemon Grove Recreation Center, 4959 Lemon Grove Ave.
-- Glassell Recreation Center, 3650 Verdugo Road.
Los Angeles County health officials announced that some COVID-19 testing centers would be closed this weekend due to health concerns stemming from the unhealthy air quality.
Testing sites at East L.A. College in Monterey Park, the Pomona Fairplex and San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte were closed Saturday and Sunday, while the site at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita will be closed Sunday.
Officials with the Los Angeles Zoo said Saturday that the zoo would be closed Sunday and Monday due to the unhealthy air.
"The Zoo hopes to reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 15, but we will continue to monitor air quality advisories issued by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and adhere to air quality safety guidance for safely reopening," officials said.
They added that staff was closely monitoring the animals who reside in outdoor habitats, but based on past fire events in the Los Angeles area, they did not anticipate any air quality issues to affect the animals.
The Bobcat Fire erupted on Sept. 6 near the Cogswell Dam and West Fork Day Use area.
City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.