Bobcat Fire spreads closer to foothill communities of Arcadia and Monrovia in southern California

Evacuation order issued Sunday morning for a portion of Arcadia

Updated September 13, 2020  |  8:22 p.m. PDT

Bobcat Fire, Sept 13, 2020
Bobcat Fire Sept. 13, 2020. USFS photo.

Firefighters on the ground and in the air fought back the Bobcat Fire as it spread downhill toward Chantry Flat in Santa Anita Canyon Road Sunday afternoon. There was significant western growth towards Mt. Wilson and Mt. Harvard where hand crews and dozers are working to protect the area. Crews conducted strategic firing operations on the north side and six large air tankers dropped retardant. Some of the drops were between the Mt. Wilson Observatory and Sierra Madre.

At the top or north end of the fire crews stopped the spread of spot fires near Buckhorn Flat and Highway 2.

Sunday night the priority will be to protect the foothill communities using the additional resources that recently arrived.

Sunday evening fire officials said the Bobcat Fire had burned 33,312 acres.

firefighters Bobcat Fire
Firefighters constructing fireline on the Bobcat Fire, Sept. 13, 2020.

September 13, 2020  |  10:40 a.m. PDT

 map of the Bobcat Fire
Map of the Bobcat Fire. The white line was the perimeter at 10:24 p.m. PDT Sept 12, 2020. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 3 a.m. PDT Sept. 13, 2020.

The Bobcat Fire in Southern California remained active Saturday night and early Sunday morning, continuing to burn downhill toward Monrovia, Sierra Madre, and Duarte. It is also moving north toward SR2 in the Buckhorn Flat area, and there is significant western growth toward Mt Wilson. The fire has burned 31,991 acres.

Sunday morning an evacuation order was issued for residents north of Elkins Avenue and East of Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia. Evacuation sites have been set up at Santa Anita Racetrack. The most current information for Arcadia residents is at the city’s website.

Crews are constructing hand line and dozer line where possible to stop the downhill progression. Indirect lines are being used where direct attack is not possible. As visibility allows, helicopters, when available, are being used to support the ground forces. Elsewhere on the fire the focus will be on keeping it south of Highway 2 and west of Highway 39. Indirect dozer line continues to be constructed to keep the fire away from Mount Wilson and to herd it into the Station Fire scar where there will be significantly reduced fire behavior. This fire has mainly been driven by steep terrain and dry fuels, some of which have not seen fire activity in at least 60 years.

 map of the Bobcat Fire
3-D map of the Bobcat Fire at 10:24 p.m. PDT Sept 12, 2020.

Resources assigned to the fire include 18 hand crews, 72 engines, 5 helicopters, and 7 dozers for a total of 813 personnel.

Bobcat Fire
Bobcat Fire September 12, 2020. InciWeb.
Bobcat Fire
Bobcat Fire September 10, 2020. Photo by Tim Dunfee.

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Video shows large number of structures burned during the Almeda Drive Fire in southern Oregon

It impacted the cities of Talent and Phoenix, September 8, 2020

structures burned Almeda Fire Phoenix Talent Oregon
Devastation from the Almeda Drive Fire in the area of Phoenix and Talent in southern Oregon. Screenshot from video shot by Jackson County on September 8, 2020.

The latest official estimate of the number of structures destroyed in the Almeda Drive Fire in southern Oregon on September 8 is 600 homes and 100 commercial buildings. A video appears to indicate that number is conservative.

Authorities have confirmed two deaths. Since lightning and power lines can be ruled out, they have concluded it was human-caused. It is possible the number of fatalities could rise as searches are conducted. It was weeks before searches were concluded after the Camp Fire at Paradise, California. There will be lists of people that are unaccounted for, but many of them will be safe and having difficulty communicating with family and friends.

map Almeda Drive Fire
Map of the Almeda Drive Fire

The Oregonian reports officials are considering arson as a possible cause:

Authorities are investigating the Almeda fire as an arson after discovering human remains in Ashland, the city police chief said. The Jackson County’s Major Assault/Death Investigation Unit is investigating the nature of the death of the person found, according to Ashland Police Chief Tighe O’Meara.

“One thing I can say is that the rumor it was set by Antifa is 100% false information,” the police chief said by email. “We have some leads, and none of it points in that direction.”

structures burned Almeda Drive Fire Phoenix Talent Oregon
Devastation from the Almeda Drive Fire in the area of Phoenix and Talent in southern Oregon. Screenshot from video shot by Jackson County on September 8, 2020.

The FBI is asking the public to not waste the time of law enforcement with conspiracy theories and misinformation.

FBI information fires Oregon

To have been so destructive, it is a little surprising that the fire only burned 3,200 acres. The 40 to 45 mph wind on September 8 was from the southeast, which aligned with the Interstate 5 corridor as it burned like a blowtorch for 8 miles, starting north of Ashland and tearing through the cities of Talent and Phoenix. Photos of what remains of the area show retardant drops made by air tankers, a DC-10 and two MD-87s, but they were largely ineffective. This is no surprise, since a wind stronger than 15 or 20 mph can scatter the retardant off target, or if the wind is stronger and turbulent it can be unsafe to operate an aircraft flying low and slow.

The video shot by Jackson County authorities on September 8 is below. It begins near Ashland, then continues up the Interstate 5 corridor through Talent and Phoenix.

Below are more screenshots from the video.

Continue reading “Video shows large number of structures burned during the Almeda Drive Fire in southern Oregon”

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Oregon fires have burned about a million acres

An Area Command Team has been mobilized to assist local units in the state

structures burned Almeda Fire Phoenix Talent Oregon
Devastation from the Almeda Drive Fire in the area of Phoenix and Talent in southern Oregon. Screenshot from video shot by Jackson County on September 8, 2020.

It could take some time to count all of the structures that have burned in western Oregon. What is known so far about the huge fires that have burned approximately a million acres in the state is the deaths of seven people have been documented according to state officials. Dozens more, they said, are unaccounted for, but many of those could be safe and are having difficulty communicating with friends and relatives.

The number of people that have evacuated has been fluctuating wildly. The Oregonian reported that the state in a news release Thursday night said an “estimated 500,000 Oregonians have been evacuated and that number continues to grow.” The half-million figure received widespread attention, but after an analysis by the newspaper determined that number could not be accurate, Gov. Kate Brown acknowledged Friday the true number to be far lower, about 40,000. She explained that the higher figure included everyone in some category of evacuation, including “Be Set,” and “Be Ready.”

Map heat wildfires western U.S.
Map of heat detected on wildfires in the western U.S. by satellites September 12, 2020.

The weather next week is expected to be cooler, with decreasing winds and a slight chance of rain on Tuesday and Thursday. This should slow the spread of the blazes and enable firefighters to shift from evacuations to constructing fireline on the perimeters. Up until now, a very, very small percentage of the edges of the fires have containment line.

Doug Grafe, chief of fire protection at the Oregon Department of Forestry, said eight of the large fires “will be on our landscape until the winter rains fall. Those fires represent close to 1 million acres … We will see smoke and we will have firefighters on those fires up until the heavy rains.”

Three Area Command Teams (ACT) were mobilized Thursday to assist local units in suppressing the fires in the western states. One of them, led by Area Commander Joe Stutler, will be coordinating the efforts in northwest Oregon. The other two will be California.

Typically an ACT is used to oversee the management of large incidents or those to which multiple Incident Management Teams have been assigned. They can take some of the workload off the local administrative unit when they have multiple incidents going at the same time. Your typical Forest or Park is not usually staffed to supervise two or more Incident Management Teams fighting fire in their area. An ACT can provide decision support to Multi-Agency Coordination Groups for allocating scarce resources and help mitigate the span of control for the local Agency Administrator. They also ensure that incidents are properly managed, coordinate team transitions, and evaluate Incident Management Teams.

structures burned Almeda Fire Phoenix Talent Oregon
Devastation from the Almeda Drive Fire in the area of Phoenix and Talent in southern Oregon. Screenshot from video shot by Jackson County on September 8, 2020.
Satellite photo smoke wildfires
Satellite photo showing smoke from wildfires at 5:17 p.m. PDT September 11, 2020.

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Stunning photos of pyrocumulus clouds over the Claremont-Bear Fire

Northern California

Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020
Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020. By Lori Mallory Eckhart.

Lori Mallory Eckhart took these remarkable photos of the Claremont-Bear Fire September 8, 2020, the day it made a massive run west to Oroville, California increasing in size by more than 100,000 acres in 24 hours. The camera she used was a Nikon D7100 with an f/3.5-6.3  18-300 mm lens.

The Claremont and Bear Fires burned together and are now managed as part of the 252,000-acre North Complex organization.

The white cloud above the smoke is a pyrocumulus cloud produced by the intense heating of the air over a fire. This induces convection, which causes the air mass to rise to a point of stability, where condensation occurs. If the fire is large enough, the cloud may continue to grow, becoming a cumulonimbus flammagenitus which may produce lightning and start another fire.

Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020
Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020. By Lori Mallory Eckhart.
Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020
Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020. By Lori Mallory Eckhart.
Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020
Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020. By Lori Mallory Eckhart.
Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020
Claremont-Bear Fire, Sept. 8 ,2020. By Lori Mallory Eckhart.

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