Firefighters were able to defend Mount Wilson over the weekend, however, which overlooks greater Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Mountains and has a historic observatory founded more than a century ago and numerous broadcast antennas serving southern California. California.
The Bobcat fire began on September 6 and has already doubled in size over the past week, becoming one of the largest Los Angeles County wildfires in history, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The fire is 15% under control and no injuries have been reported.
Roland Pagan watched his Juniper Hills home burn through binoculars as he stood on a nearby hill, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The ferocity of this fire was shocking,” Pagan, 80, told the newspaper. “He burned my house alive in just 20 minutes.”
The wildfire also destroyed the nature center at Devil’s Punchbowl Nature Area, a geological wonder that attracts some 130,000 visitors a year.
Although the Bobcat fire has drawn closer to the high desert community of Valyermo, a Benedictine monastery appears to have escaped major damage, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Across California, nearly 19,000 firefighters continue to fight more than two dozen major forest fires. More than 7,900 wildfires have burned more than 14,164 km2 in California this year, many since a barrage of dry lightning in mid-August that ignited parched vegetation.
Meanwhile, authorities were investigating the death of a firefighter on the lines of another southern California wildfire that broke out earlier this month from a smoke-generating pyrotechnic device used by a couple to reveal the sex of their baby.
The death occurred Thursday in the San Bernardino National Forest as crews battled the El Dorado blaze about 120 km east of Los Angeles, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement.
The name of the killed firefighter has not yet been released. A statement from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, said it was the 26th death involving wildfires besieging the state.
Authorities have also not disclosed the identity of the couple, who could face criminal charges and be held responsible for the cost of fighting the blaze.
In Wyoming, a fast-growing wildfire in the southeastern part of the state was approaching a reservoir that is a major source of water for the capital, Cheyenne.
The water system remained safe and capable of filtering the ash and other burnt material that flowed into streams and reservoirs after the wildfires, said Clint Bassett, director of water treatment for the council of Cheyenne utilities.