Southern California Foothill Communities Face Wildfire Threat

MONROVIA, Calif. (CN) — Ash fell on the Los Angeles County foothill community of Monrovia for a fifth day Friday as the Bobcat Fire burns in the nearby Angeles National Forest.

The air is thick with smoke and the hillsides are pink with fire retardant. In the nearby canyon, chainsaws roared as firefighters made a defensive line against the wildfire moving toward brush in steep, dry terrain that has not burned in the last 60 years according to the U.S. National Forest Service.

Monrovia resident Stephen Kallin said that at night he can see exactly where the fire is burning on the nearby ridgeline.

“It’s kind of weird at night to see it and then in the day I’m checking to see if I’m still looking at the same mountain, because of all the haze,” said Kallin. “Makes its worse to not know where the fire is.”

During the day, the flames peek out from above the ridge and at night the glow is visible to the roughly 37,000 residents in the city of Monrovia. A large section of the city is under an evacuation warning.

On Friday afternoon, Brad Palfrey swept out cobwebs from a rental home he’s getting ready for some new tenants, ash mixing with the webs. He adjusted his mask and busied himself while fire engines and police cruisers drove up the street north of Hillcrest Boulevard in the foothills. Palfrey has lived in the neighborhood for over 20 years and says he’s never seen the fires become this active — but he intends to stay until the last moment.

“Because once you leave you can’t get back in until the fire is out,” Palfrey said.

Monrovia resident Brad Palfrey cleans the outside of a home that will be rented to new tenants in an area under an evacuation warning as the Bobcat Fire burns in the nearby Angeles National Forest. (Courthouse News photo / Nathan Solis)

When asked what he will tell the tenants about the ash and the possibility that they might have to leave as soon as they arrive Palfrey answered, “Hey, we got a 60-year fire coming through.”

The Angeles National Forest located in the San Gabriel Mountains and Sierra Pelona Mountains has seen multiple fires this season. Unfortunately for fire crews, the seasonal Santa Ana winds have not arrived yet, meaning the fire season is early and moving along just fine without the strong winds.

The fire has burned north toward the Angeles Crest Highway, where aircraft have dropped retardant. But it is also burning south and northeast due to wind gusts.

Unlike other large fire complexes across California which have charred hundreds of thousands of acres over the last month, the Bobcat Fire started less than a week ago and has burned roughly 26,000 acres. Officials say the fire crossed into the Monrovia city limits on Friday.

The Bobcat Fire is just 6% contained and is burning toward a burn scar from another fire that also started last month.

The area under the evacuation warning also extends to sections of the foothill communities of Altadena and Sierra Madre.

Residents have been advised to keep their vehicles fully fueled and ready to go in the event winds shift and the fires are picked up off the ridgeline and carried down into the nearby communities

The Bobcat Fire isn’t the only blaze ravaging the area. On the western edge of the Angeles National Forest about 75 miles away, the Lake Fire has burned 31,000 acres and is nearly contained. That blaze started in late August.

%d bloggers like this: