Aerial Firefighters Battle Massive Bobcat Fire above Monrovia

A C-130 Cargo plane drops PhosChek on the mountains above the city Wednesday afternoon. – Photo by Terry Miller

By Terry Miler

Residents’ concerns over the lack of air attacks on the Bobcat fire were quickly quelled when DC-10 jets and C-130 aircraft made an Aerial assault on the fire in the mountains above Monrovia Wednesday afternoon. Air quality was too dangerous in the early part of the day and firefighting aircraft were grounded due to poor visibility.

However, in the late afternoon, the pilots took the big birds to the skies and quickly extinguished flare ups on the ridges. The mountains were quickly painted with the colorful Phos Chek  thanks to the expert piloting of Boing DC10’s, C-130 and other fixed wing pilots who coordinated several hours of a well-orchestrated and visually stunning performance – each and every time the pilot allowed the all too common sight of the bright red retardant out of the cargo hold.

Long-term retardant like Phos Chek is the ideal tool for slowing or stopping the spread of wildland fires. PHOS-CHEK®long-term retardants chemically alter wildland fuels to render them non-flammable. All PHOS-CHEK retardants are fully qualified by the USDA Forest Service. They are the safest, most effective, and environmentally friendly products available.

DC 10’s lay fire retardant on the trail head Wed. – Photo by Terry Miller

Overnight, the Bobcat Fire continued to grow, moving in a northeasterly direction but is also slowly burning towards the west.  The forest area above Monrovia has not seen a fire in over 60 years. The city sent out a reminder that Bobcat fire is not an immediate risk to Monrovia residents and still not contained, the fire will continue to be visible from the City with plumes of smoke during the day. Firefighting crews have spent considerable time building defensive lines on the western and southern edges of the fire. Now, efforts are being focused on the east and northeastern edges of the fire. The goal is to keep the fire from jumping Highway 39. 

Please note…the fire is burning at a high elevation, with fuels that historically have not burned, and is surrounded by defensible space, dozer lines, and even recently burned areas from fires in the past 3-4 years. The area will likely burn for several weeks until it is fully extinguished by crews. 

According to the South Coast Air Quality Management Districts, the Bobcat Fire is producing substantial amounts of smoke and falling ash. The Monrovia area will experience heavy smoke impacts. If you smell smoke or see ash due to the wildfire, here are ways to limit your exposure: 

The fire(s) have created a blanket of unhealthy air in the San Gabriel Valley for days now- Photo by Terry Miller

Remain indoors with windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter;

Avoid vigorous physical activity;

Run your air conditioner if you have one. Make sure it has a clean filter and that it is recirculating the indoor air to prevent bringing additional smoke inside; 

Create a clean air space in your home by using a portable air cleaner instead of or in addition to your air conditioner.  Use in one or more rooms with both the doors and windows closed;

Avoid using a whole-house fan or a swamp cooler with an outside air intake;

Avoid using indoor or outdoor wood-burning appliances, including fireplaces and candles.

Photos by Terry Miller

We want to remind everyone that fire can spread quickly and residents should be cognizant that the fire will continue to burn throughout the day. 


  1. Typos:

    In the first sentence of the article, it should read “aerial” assault, not Ariel”

    In Terry’s bio, it should say “aboard” the Queen Mary, rather than “abroad”

  2. ” … made an Ariel assault on the fire in the mountains.”

    Cute typo: An “Ariel assault” maybe even makes some sense since, you know, Ariel is a mermaid and can, perhaps, use the water from the sea to help put out the flames.


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