Bobcat Fire evacuations bring anxiety for residents

The Bobcat Fire continues to rage, bringing poor air quality and evacuations for dozens of residents.

"We've had fires but not quite like this. The year we bought the house at the end of 1999, the beginning of 2000, the hills burned, but this is as close as it has come," said Leigh Chavez, an Arcadia resident who was evacuated.

Chavez took photos of the smoke and flames near her home before evacuating.

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"It's unsettling, of course. When you're watching flames come over the hill, it's daunting. It makes you nervous," she said.

Chavez packed her most valuable belongings and left her home to stay at a nearby hotel until further notice.

"For me, it was just looking around and say most of this stuff is replaceable, what are the few things we have to take with us? Driving away was really surreal and sad," said Chavez.

She said it is even more unsettling to evacuate during a pandemic.

"2020, it's been the year. What else can go wrong, I don't want to ask that question, but yes because it puts a whole wrench in first responders and how close you can get to people," she said.

Claire Li, a 15-year-old sophomore at Arcadia High was also forced to evacuate from Sierra Madre with her family.

"I actually never expected to ever get evacuated. We were pretty prepared and just had to make sure to get everything we wanted," she said.

Li said she heard the early warnings on Labor Day and has been on edge.

"In the beginning, I was super scared. It's really just a lot of uncertainty for me," she said.

Li is distance learning from her hotel room now with the evacuation order.

"I think the hardest part is just not knowing when we'll get back home so we don't know how many days we'll be here so I really have no schedule right now," she said.

Li's mother described their neighborhood as a "war zone" before the evacuation.

"It was crazy. My mom said there were like five helicopters and I think there were two aircrafts too and all morning and all night, we heard helicopters over our house and it was really crazy," she said.

The Bobcat fire is 3% contained and fire crews are continuing to battle the flames. Li and Chavez both said they are grateful for the fire crews, and first responder

"Really happy that my house is still there and that they've worked so hard to protect the neighborhoods," said Chavez.