Firefighters wrest control over half of massive California wildfire

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Firefighters on Thursday said they had contained about half of a massive blaze ravaging Los Angeles County for nearly a month, as a fire season that has killed dozens across the U.S. West took another hopeful turn.

FILE PHOTO: Firefighters work at the site of the Bobcat Fire burning near Mount Wilson in the Angeles National Forest, near Los Angeles, U.S., September 23, 2020. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

The Bobcat Fire burning outside Los Angeles held steady overnight at about 113,000 acres burned, John Clearwater, spokesman for Angeles National Forest, said in a written statement.

The wildfire, which broke out Sept. 6, is one of the largest in recorded Los Angeles County history. About 1,600 personnel are currently deployed to fight it, Clearwater said.

The blaze was only 17% contained on Tuesday, and crews had nearly tripled their control of it by Thursday morning. At its peak, the flames were poised to destroy the Mount Wilson Observatory, a stargazing site originally built in the San Gabriel Mountains outside Los Angeles in 1904.

The 2020 fire season in California, Oregon, and Washington has been especially brutal, though the end of September has seen the blazes ease somewhat.

The fires have killed 26 people in California since Aug. 15 and 10 have died in other Western states.

Already 2020 is the worst fire season in California history, with five of the state’s largest recorded wildfires burning in just one year.

That record was previously broken in 2018, and scientists say fire seasons across the U.S. West will likely continue to intensify due to factors including land development, forest management and climate change.

Roughly 3.6 million acres have burned in California since the beginning of the year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. Another 2 million acres have burned in Washington and Oregon.

The Forest Service warned that it expects more hot, dry weather to arrive in Los Angeles over the weekend, potentially dealing a setback to progress bringing the Bobcat Fire under control.

Reporting by Mimi Dwyer in Los Angeles; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Tom Brown