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Crews working day and night have gained better control over the destructive wildfire burning for a third week in the Angeles National Forest.

By Thursday morning, firefighters had the blaze 50% contained at 113,986 acres, or 178 square miles, according to the federal InciWeb page.

More than 1,600 firefighters have converged on the fire, but critically-needed firefighting resources are still limiting, affecting how fast crews are able to contain the fire’s spread.

Aided by strong winds and insufficient firefighting resources, the Bobcat Fire advanced on the Antelope Valley foothills last week, ripping a path of destruction along the way.

The stubborn fire destroyed at least 52 structures, including many homes in the Juniper Hills area, according to a county estimate released Wednesday.

The fire is expected to continue spreading north in the foothill communities of Juniper Hills and Valyermo and towards Big Pine Thursday. Crews in the Antelope Valley will be securing fire lines and mopping up around structures.

Winds are expected to push flames down slopes, with the fire spotting forward, growing rapidly and threatening structures. “Community of Littlerock and Wrightwood will be impacted soon,” fire officials said Thursday morning.

Crews on the northeastern edge of the fire from Highway 2 to Big Rock Creek Road plan to set up a direct handline to battle the flames, or to prepare for another round of strategic firing operations — fighting “fire with fire,” Angeles National Forest officials said.

The wildfire has made an unprecedented wind-driven run through the forest, feeding on never-before burned, extremely dry brush and chaparral. Strategically setting intentional fires creates less fuels for the fire to consume.

That’s what firefighters did Wednesday, north of Mt. Wilson, where the flames continue to rage.

Crews will also set up handlines in the northwestern section of the fire, from Highway 2 to Little Rock Reservoir. “This is very steep and difficult country and It will take several days to accomplish this task,” fire officials said.

On the eastern side of the blaze, flames still threaten to jump containment lines north of the Ranch 2 scar area and in the Highway 39 corridor.

Fire activity on the northern side of the Mt. Wilson Observatory is threatening the Red Box Fire Station, Camp-Hi High School and Barley Flat on the northern side of Highway 2, according to fire officials.

A high pressure system will move in on Friday, starting a significant warming and drying trend — bringing near-record temperatures and very low humidity, fire officials said. On Saturday, forecasters expect gusty northeast winds.

Evacuation orders remain for nearby communities and a Red Cross evacuation center has been set up at Palmdale High School, on 2137 E. Avenue R, Palmdale.

Evacuation orders:

  • South and West of Upper Big Tujunga.
  • East of Angeles Forest Highway.
  • North of Angeles Crest Highway.
  • Homes along Angeles Crest Highway, between Angeles Forest Highway and Highway 39.
  • The unincorporated areas of Juniper Hills, Devils Punch Bowl and Paradise Springs.
  • The unincorporated areas of Crystal Lake, east Fork of the San Gabriel River and Camp Williams.
  • South of Highway 138, north of Big Rock Creek, east of 87th Street East and West of Largo Vista Road.
  • South of 138th St. East, North of Big Pine Highway and Highway 2, east of Largo Vista Road and West of 263rd St. East.
  • South of Highway 138, north of East Avenue W-14, east of 155th Street East, and east of 165th Street East.

Evacuation warnings:

  • City of Pasadena
  • Unincorporated communities of Altadena and Wrightwood.
  • South of Pearblossom Highway, east and North of Angeles Forest Highway, north and west of Mt. Emma Road, east and South of Highway 122 and west of Cheseboro Road.
  • South of Highway 2, North of Blue Ridge Truck Trail, east of Highway 39 and west of the Los Angeles County border.
  • South of Avenue U-8, north of East Avenue W-14, east of 121st East and west of 155th Street East. (Longview)
  • South of Pearblossom Highway (Highway 138), south and east of Pearblossom Highway (Highway 122), north and west of Mt. Emma Road, north and east of Angeles Forest Highway, and West of Cheseboro Road. (Emma)
  • South of Mt. Emma Road, north of Upper Big Tujunga Canyon Road, east of Angeles Forest Highway and West of Pacifico Mountain.
  • Littlerock: East of Cheseboro Road, South of Pearblossom Highway, North of Weber Ranch Road and west of 87th Street E.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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