High winds carry ash from Bobcat fire into L.A. Basin, causing bad air quality

As a wind-driven wildfire burned in Orange County on Monday, ash was blanketing the streets of East Los Angeles and parts of the San Gabriel Valley. But the particles were likely from the nearly contained Bobcat fire, which has been burning for more than a month in the Angeles National Forest, a forest spokesman said.

The Bobcat fire has scorched more than 115,000 acres, leaving a forest floor carpeted in gray, burned flecks of brush and trees. With winds whipping through Los Angeles County at gusts up to 60 mph, ash is being carried into East L.A. and nearby cities, said Angeles National Forest spokesman Andrew Mitchell.

“It would be easy to extrapolate that we have a major fire of 115,000 acres, that wind blowing down from that northeast direction is going to push that [ash] down into the southern part of L.A. County,” Mitchell said, adding that the Bobcat fire is 95% contained.

He also said it’s possible the ash could be coming from the Dolan or El Dorado fires farther east.

Air quality in Los Angeles is suffering as a result of the particulate matter, with parts of the county in the “unhealthy” range, according to government tracking.

“I know air quality for the San Gabriel mountains is not ideal with all the ash, but there’s no real smoke impact,” Mitchell said.

In some mountain ridges, winds are in the upper 70 mph range, with 96-mph gusts recorded in the Magic Mountain Truck Trail, according to the National Weather Service.

California’s most recent blaze, the Silverado fire, sparked in Orange County and rapidly spread to 4,000 acres in a few hours. Mitchell said it is possible but highly unlikely that the winds are carrying ash from Orange County to East Los Angeles.

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