1 of 3 | A sign on the Angeles Crest Highway warns the public about the extreme fire danger in the San Gabriel Mountains near Juniper Hills, Calif., on Monday. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 21 (UPI) -- Days after officials declared the historic Mount Wilson Observatory in Los Angeles County safe from an aggressive fast-moving blaze, firefighters on Monday were attempting to beat back the Bobcat fire as it attempted to work its way up the mountain.
The Angeles National Forest said Sunday that the fire, which has grown to be one of the largest in the county's history, was "threatening all of the values" on Mount Wilson. Officials had said Friday said it was safe after crews deployed strategic firing to protect the iconic observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains.
Strong winds and low humidity overnight helped the blaze to grow a few thousand acres to 105,345 acres as of 8 a.m. Monday, the Angeles National Forest said in a statement. It was 15% contained.
Engines, hand crews and aircraft on Monday were deployed to the north side of Mount Wilson to extinguish spot fires, the service said.
"Bobcat fire is making a hard push at Mount Wilson," the Angeles National Forest said on Twitter. "Defensive strategic operations are beginning from Mount Wilson to the west."
Thomas Meneghi, the observatory's executive director, told the Los Angeles Times, that on Sunday eight additional strike units were seen being dispatched to the area after it was deemed safe two days prior.
"Just when I thought the danger was over -- it wasn't," he said.
The observatory said on its Facebook Page Monday evening that the fire has picked up and is making its way toward the Mount Wilson drainage on the northwestern slope.
The Times reported that it's the second time the observatory, historic for its role in space exploration, has been under threat of fire with crews protecting it from the Station fire of 2009, which holds the title for the county's largest blaze at some 160,000 acres.
Due to the Bobcat fire encroaching on communities, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office issued evacuations orders Monday for those who live in south and west of Upper Big Tujunga and east and north of Angeles Forest Highway, while the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management ordered residents of Camp Colby to leave the area immediately.
"This warning has been upgraded to an evacuation ordered," the service announced via Twitter. "If you are in the identified area GO NOW! EVACUATE."
Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby told reporters and residents during a virtual press conference Monday evening that firefighters "scratch and claw" to protect every property they can.
Osby said this year has been a record fire season for California, with thousands of firefighters battling some 27 blazes, but added "the scary thing about all this" is that the fire season for Southern California wasn't near finished.
Cal Fire said more than 3.6 million acres have been burned in nearly 8,000 fires, resulting in 7,097 structures impacted and at least 26 deaths.
Gov. Gavin Newsom called the wildfire season "historic" in a press conference on Monday, stating that last year, there were only 5,316 fires burning some 157,000 acres.
The Democratic governor said evictions have forced 23,154 people from their homes, adding that more than 6,400 structures have been wholly destroyed.
Six major fires continue to burn in the state, he said, including the August fire, the largest in the state's history at 846,000 acres, which was at 34% contained.
In Plumas and Lassen counties, the North Complex fire, the fifth-largest ever in the state at 294,000 acres was at 64% contained, compared to 36% on Wednesday.
The Creek fire, in Fresno and Madera counties, was the seventh-largest fire in state history, and was at 278,000 acres and contained at 27%.
Concerning the Bobcat fire, he said they were deploying as many resources as possible to battle the blaze.
"We're putting all the resources we possibly can on all these complexes but focusing, as we should, on that Bobcat fire," he said.
Nationally, 78 large fires have consumed some 3.9 million acres this season, according to the national interagency Fire Center.
In Oregon, the Department of Forestry said some 7,500 personnel have been assigned to 10 major fires in the state.
The state's Office of Emergency Management has confirmed nine people have died in the fires and five people were missing as of Monday.
Some 1 million acres have been burned statewide, destroying 2,268 residences and an additional 1,556 instructions, it said in a statement.