California Fire Map, Update as Firefighters Battle to Save Mount Wilson Observatory

California wildfires have burned more than 3.2 million acres so far this year and several remain at nearly zero percent containment, fire officials have reported.

That includes the Bobcat Fire in Los Angeles County, which has burned almost 42,000 acres, is three percent contained and has threatened the historic Mount Wilson Observatory in the San Gabriel Mountains.

The fire was reported to have come within 500 feet of the evacuated observatory, according to a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Fire crew attempted to fend off flames from the observatory using hand tools and bulldozers, while four water-dropping helicopters continued to blast the blaze from the air, the spokesperson confirmed.

Found at the southern end of the Angeles National Forest, the Mount Wilson Observatory houses around 50 buildings and several telescopes used by leading astronomers.

It was founded in 1904 by American astronomer George Ellery Hale, who used a telescope at the site to discover the magnetic fields of the sun.

Over 16,000 firefighters continue to battle 25 major wildfires and "two extended attack wildfires," in California, which have resulted in 25 deaths and over 4,200 structures destroyed, according to the latest report Tuesday by the California Department of Forestry and Protection (Cal Fire).

The #BobcatFire is within 500 ft of the Mt. Wilson Observatory & crews are in place ready to receive the fire. Strategic firing is taking place in the south where air operations are strengthening dozerlines. Crews are working a spot fire that crossed Hwy 2 near Buckhorn.

— Angeles_NF (@Angeles_NF) September 15, 2020

Here are the latest updates on some of the major fires across the state that are currently largely uncontained.

August Complex Fire

  • Location: Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte, Trinity counties
  • Acres: 794,801
  • Containment: 30 percent
  • Structures threatened: 13,926

The August Complex Fire is divided across three zones, including the August Complex West Zone.

"Low relative humidity will continue to create elevated fire weather conditions," according to the report from the Incident Information System of the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG).

The fire continued to burn on Tuesday, both along its perimeter and interior pockets, and "fire activity is expected to remain high with critically dry fuels," while the "air quality remains unhealthy in many areas," the NWCG reported.

The West Zone fire, which has burned 35,398 acres, remained active Tuesday, "with isolated torching observed on the southern boundary," as well as continued "uphill slope-driven runs when in alignment with topography," according to Cal Fire's latest report.

Good progress on containment has been made in the Elder Creek area of the South Zone, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Evacuation orders remain in place for various parts of Humboldt County, Mendocino, Lake, Glenn and Trinity counties. Those affected are advised to check the website of their respective county sheriff's office for more information on specific evacuations, according to the service's latest report Tuesday.

Today's #augustcomplexsouthzone update. To view a larger version of the map:
More information on the August Complex can be found on please check InciWeb: @CALFIRE_MEU @CALFIRETGU @ShastaTrinityNF @SixRiversNF #AugustComplex

— Mendocino NF (@MendocinoNF) September 15, 2020

North Complex Fire

  • Location: Yuba, Plumas and Butte counties
  • Acres: 273,335
  • Containment: 34 percent
  • Fatalities: at least 15

The West Zone of the North Complex Fire has reached 77,329 acres, with 34 percent contained.

"There was an increase in temperatures today over the fire area due to the smoke layer dissipating...the clearing of the smoke also had a negative effect on the fire causing fire activity to increase across the fire area throughout the day," Cal Fire noted on Tuesday.

In the North Zone, the fire was reported to have been most active in the Red Mountain area, where winds caused spot fires. In the South, crews were reported to have continued to "progress with a small amount of firing along the Pacific Crest Trail to Chimney Rock. Just north of Onion Valley winds continue to slowly push the fire northeast into the steep terrain," the report said.

Evacuation orders and warnings remain in place for Butte, Plumas, and Yuba counties. See Cal Fire's full report for more information.

Creek Fire

  • Location: Fresno and Madera counties
  • Acres: 220,025
  • Containment: 18 percent
  • Structures threatened: 9,934

In Fresno County, the fire was reported to have burned near the South San Joaquin River. "Fire continued to back and flank along the east side of the fire," Cal Fire's latest report Tuesday said. "The eastern portion of the fire has burned in a very mosaic pattern with large green islands.

"These islands of fuel could flare up as weather changes," it warned.

In Madera County, the northeast part of the fire remained active on Tuesday. The fire is expected to spread mostly north towards the Balloon Dome, Granite Creek, Bowler, Portuguese Viewpoint, Globe Rock and Little Shuteye Peak areas and remain active in the Central Camp, South Fork Bluffs and Whiskey Falls areas, the report said.

Several evacuation orders in parts of Fresno County have been downgraded to warnings, while some evacuations warnings have been lifted. Several evacuation warnings in Madera County were also lifted.

#RedFlagWarning in effect for the North Eastern portion of CA until late this evening for gusty winds and low humidity. This is #CriticalFireWeather so use caution outdoors. More tips:

— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) September 16, 2020

Bobcat Fire

  • Location: Los Angeles County
  • Acres: 41,773
  • Containment: 3 percent

"Fire behavior remains very active, with active backing and flanking, uphill runs, torching and crowning, and spotting observed. Spotting continues to present challenges...all critical thresholds for large fire growth are being met and exceeded," the NWCG reported Tuesday.

"With probability of ignition (PIG) in 90-100 percent range, spot fires will establish quickly and grow rapidly. Fire is being influenced mostly by slope and fuel, so spread is likely in all directions," the report noted.

The fire is expected to spread one to three miles west or north in potentially the northern or southwestern portion of the fire.

The communities of Sierra Madre, Arcadia, Monrovia, Bradbury and Duarte are expected to be impacted, while potential negative impacts on Mt. Wilson and Mt. Harvard communication sites are also possible, the report added.

The evacuation order for Camp Williams community in Azusa has been lifted but several other evacuation orders and warnings remain in place. See the full NWCG report for details.

🔥9/15/20 PM🔥#BobcatFire is at 41,773 acres w/3% containment. Today, fire crews worked to protect Mt. Wilson & foothill communities. We thank our residents affected by evac orders & those under evac warnings for their support & patience.

For updates: @Angeles_NF & @LACoFDPIO

— LACoFD (@LACOFD) September 16, 2020

Slater/Devil Fires

  • Location: Siskiyou County
  • Acres: 142,570
  • Containment: 10 percent

The Slater/Devil fires are within California and a portion of Oregon.

The Slater Fire was reported to be most active in the north, spreading in all directions, while the southern portion continued to flank along Highway 96 and the Klamath River.

The east side of the fire was reported to be moving into Thompson Creek, spreading along Highway 96 near Fort Goff area, according to the latest NWCG report Tuesday.

The Devil Fire is "spreading in all directions as it moves out of the Goff Fire footprint. The fire is established in the Red Buttes Wilderness," the report added.

Evacuation orders remain in place for parts of the Happy Camp community of California. See the full NWCG report for details.

Morning map and numbers for the #SlaterFire and #DevilFire: Slater Fire is 131,061 acres and 10% contained, the Devil Fire is 4,429 acres and 0% contained.

— Klamath NF (@Klamath_NF) September 15, 2020

Dolan Fire

  • Location: Monterey County
  • Acres: 119,488
  • Containment: 40 percent

"On the inland portion of the fire shading from upper level smoke continues to moderate fire behavior...on the coastal side of the fire, the persistent marine layer has minimized fire behavior," the NWCG reported Tuesday.

Within the next 72 hours or so, the fire is expected to "shift from southerly to a more northerly flow by Thursday...this shift will bring higher humidities but will also test the south side of the fire with adverse winds," the report added.

Today 16,600 firefighters are battling 25 major wildfires statewide. The latest numbers on all active wildland fires at:

— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) September 15, 2020

SQF Complex Fire

  • Location: Tulare County
  • Acres: 107,101
  • Containment: 12 percent

The SQF Complex Fire in the Sequoia National Forest is made of the Castle and Shotgun fires. Most of the Castle Fire is within the Sequoia National Forest, while some of it is also burning in the Inyo National Forest.

"Warm temperatures, very low minimum relative humidity, atmospheric instability and winds produced critical fire behavior mostly to the west, north, and south," the NWCG reported Tuesday.

"Active fire behavior continues as the fire moves to the northwest, north, and south against wind and slopes...spotting continues to occur as fire behavior remains active through the burning period," the report added.

Evacuation orders and road closures are in effect in parts of Tulare County. See the full NWCG report for details.

Red Salmon Complex Fire

  • Location: Humboldt County
  • Acres: 95,137
  • Containment: 18 percent

Spotting was reported to have slowed in the northeast, as the fire moved toward the confluence of Nordheimer Creek and China Creek.

The fire headed east towards Knownothing Creek, with fire crew attempting to direct the fire to Salmon River Road. In the south, the fire was reported to be backing into Tish Tang Creek and continuing on a downslope between Trinity Mountain and One Mile Creek, according to the latest NWCG report Tuesday.

The fire has burned the following acres of forest and reservation land so far, according to the report:

  • Six Rivers National Forest: 43,327 acres
  • Shasta Trinity National Forest: 34,353 acres
  • Klamath National Forest: 13,403 acres
  • Hoopa Valley Reservation: 661 acres

Evacuation orders remain in place for the Forks of Salmon community.

Other Fires

  • Slink Fire in Mono County: 26,709 acres; 60 percent contained
  • El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County: 14,478 acres; 44 percent contained
  • Blue Jay Fire in Mariposa County: 3,500 acres; 20 percent contained
  • Rattlesnake Fire in Tulare County: 1,441 acres; 0 percent contained

For the latest up-to-date information on these fires and others in the state, visit the Cal Fire website.

Mount Wilson Observatory California Bobcat Fire 2020
Smoke rises behind the Mount Wilson Observatory as the Bobcat Fire burns in the Angeles National Forest on September 14 near Pasadena, California. Mario Tama/Getty Image