A wildfire burning through brush and timber from the mountains to the desert northeast of Los Angeles threatened more than 1,000 homes on Tuesday as crews across the West battled dozens of other major blazes.
The Bobcat Fire in Southern California was advancing at one to two miles per hour at times and threatened the Mojave Desert town of Pearblossom after burning into the Antelope Valley foothill area, across the San Gabriel Mountains from Los Angeles.
The blaze that began Sept. 6 has destroyed or damaged at least 29 homes and other buildings, with the toll rising to perhaps 85 when damage assessment teams can complete their work this week, authorities said.
Firefighters also battled flareups near Mount Wilson, which overlooks greater Los Angeles and has a historic observatory founded more than a century ago and numerous broadcast antennas that serve Southern California.
The fire was fueled by vegetation that hadn’t burned in decades and pushed by erratic winds over the weekend, although they had died down by Monday, and were expected to remain light through Tuesday.
Numerous studies in recent years have linked bigger U.S. wildfires to global warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas, especially because climate change has made California much drier. A drier California means plants are more flammable.
Near Mount Wilson, firefighters set more than a mile of fires designed to burn out the blaze’s fuel and act as a brake on its advance.
“We’ve got a fire here that is bigger than the city of Denver, and it did it in two weeks,” said Sky Cornell with the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
About 1,100 homes and some 4,000 residents remained under evacuation orders and the fire was only 17 percent contained, fire officials said.
Evacuation warnings — meaning residents should be prepared to flee if ordered — remained in effect for the Los Angeles suburb of Pasadena, home of the Rose Bowl and the annual Rose Parade, and Wrightwood, a mountain community near several San Bernardino County ski resorts.
The blaze was one of more than two dozen major wildfires burning across California, including five of the largest in state history.
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