Owners return to historic San Gabriel Mountain cabins after Bobcat Fire

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The Bobcat Fire destroyed 17 of the 81 historic cabins in Big Santa Anita Canyon, including this one. Photo by Susan Valot for KCRW.

Big Santa Anita Canyon, part of the Angeles National Forest, was an idyllic getaway for thousands of Southern California locals. Then the Bobcat Fire ripped through in September, destroying 17 of the 81 historic cabins there.  

“Don’t come up here if you’re a hermit. Your fellow cabin owners will get to know you. They’ll recognize your car in the parking lot. However, they will also take the shirt off their back to help you. And that’s been so true,” said Bambi Hale, whose cabin survived. 

Meanwhile, Ben Lambert’s cabin was destroyed. “It’s a mourning. If I were to describe it, it’s like a family member dying,” he said. 

Lambert hopes to rebuild, but the U.S. Forest Service has not decided yet on that. It wants to see what the winter rains and likely mud will do. Big Santa Anita Canyon is not expected to reopen until April 2022.