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Air Quality Unhealthy For all Residents Near Colby Fire

Evacuations ordered for homes north of Sierra Madre Boulevard. Emergency shelters are set up at Finkbiner Park, Goddard Middle School and Glendora High School.

Fire burns above Glendora Thursday. Photo credit: Dirk Hopstein
Fire burns above Glendora Thursday. Photo credit: Dirk Hopstein

A fire has scorched 1,700 acres Thursday morning in the Angeles National Forest north of Glendora, prompting mandatory evacuations of 3,700 people from 870 homes and school closures, authorities said. 

The South Coast Air Quality District has issued a smoke advisory and is urging residents to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities in the San Gabriel Valley and Pomona. Paper and surgical masks will not be sufficient enough to protect residents from the pollution. Residents who can see or smell the smoke are advised to stay indoors, close windows and avoid rigorous exercise. 

The fire is currently 30 percent contained. Five single-family homes have been destroyed and 17 additional buildings, including homes, have been damaged. A civilian and two firefighters have suffered minor injuries. The fire, being referred to as The Colby Fire, was reported shortly before 6 a.m. near San Gabriel Canyon Road, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. At least 700 firefighters were on the scene, aided by eight air tankers and seven helicopters.

Evacuations

Shortly after 7 a.m., evacuations were ordered for an area north of Sierra Madre Boulevard, from Grand Avenue to Glendora Mountain Road, according to the Glendora Police Department. About an hour later, the western boundary of the evacuation area was expanded to Azusa Avenue in Azusa, said Azusa Police Department Officials. 

Evacuation centers are located at:

  • Finkbiner Park, near Foothill Boulevard and Grand Avenue in Glendora. 
  • Glendora High School Event Center set up by the Red Cross.
  • Duarte Community Center at 1600 Huntington Dr. (for Duarte residents.)

Though residents are anxious to return home, Deputy Chief John Tripp of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said the area will remain unsafe for at least the rest of the day. Embers continue to endanger the area. Residents evacuated between Glendora Mountain Road and Yucca Ridge will be able to return to their homes at 6 p.m. Thursday. 

Goddard Middle School at 859 E. Sierra Madre Ave. was closed and will serve as the unified command post, according to the Glendora Unified School District. 

Other schools closed include: 

  • Cullen Elementary 
  • La Fetra Elementary
  • Sellers Middle School
  • St. Lucy's Priory High School. 
  • Citrus College in Glendora. 
All schools, with the exception of St. Lucy's Priory who has not confirmed, will be reopened Friday. 

Evacuated pets can be brought to the Pasadena Humane Society at 361 S. Raymond Ave., according to the humane society. Azusa residents may drop off their pets at Memorial Park located at 320 N. Orange Ave. A horse shelter is available at the Pomona Fairplex. 

Road Closures

Glendora Mountain Road and Highway 39 was closed. Roads were also closed north of Sierra Madre Avenue from Glendora Mountain Road to Yucca Ridge. Traffic was slowing on the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol. Covina Police, Azusa Police and Sierra Madre Police are assisting Glendora Police and fire officials at the scene.

Alleged Origin of the Fire

Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab says three people detained near the fire's point of origin have been booked on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire. The men have been identified as Clifford Eugene Henry Jr., 22, of Glendora, Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21. They reportedly tossed papers into a campfire not designated a camp area in the hills when a breeze kicked up and ignited the fire. 

"They are being cooperative,'' Staab said. "I've been told by
detectives that one has made an admission to our detectives and has admitted to setting the fire."

Henry, Jarrell and Aguirre were described as apologetic and are being held at Glendora city jail on $50,000 bail. They are due in court in West Covina on Tuesday. 

Patch will continue to update this story as information becomes available.


City News Service and Erika Maldonado contributed to this report. 

lisa January 17, 2014 at 02:03 AM
Terry... Police are very sympathetic towards the homeless it's not about a kind nature or understanding it's called the ACLU
Slim Jim January 17, 2014 at 01:08 PM
My point of view is about trying to be proactive in the crises we have...not reactive. I do not expect anyone to waive consequences when someone breaks the law. But I do think if programs and services were funded and in place for mental health and homeless purposes, we would have fewer problems to deal with.....like this one. Consequences punish someone who does a wrong but it doesn't always stop them from doing it again. Rehabilitation and counseling and services CAN help. Yes, you should have empathy for fools and homeless and those who make mistakes. Only those who never make a mistake can judge others. It's not a religious conundrum, it's a human one. Again, you all make assumptions about the guilty here...typical of the Glendora mentality..."they don't live as we do, they must be worthless scum. If my life isn't perfect then someone must pay." Life doesn't work like that. We have people all around us that we have to live with...some are good; some bad. I just think that IF there are some who could be helped so they don't do destructive things, then it's worth a try. Those of you quick to judge and condemn less fortunate people have never walked in their shoes. How do you know what you'd do if you had no home? No job? no skills or the mental skills to improve yourself? If you were freezing? You have no clue. Neither do I. I've never been there. But that doesn't mean I have a right to turn my back on those people who live that life. I'm sad that some of you were raised to be so self-centered. Look beyond your own perspective and life. You have responsibility for this whole community and world. Not just your own family.
daleford January 17, 2014 at 01:28 PM
lmao at Larry s. you have good words. we all walked in their shoes. we all turned 18 at some point and when faced with leaving parents house, we made the same decisions these people should of made. I am not self centered, but I do call it like I see it. for example, you said "glendora is supposed to be a christian community." then say this is not some religious conundrum. and I do have compassion when I see a mother and her kids begging for food cause husband left them or does or something of a deserving nature. but to a couple 20 something's that made the decision to take the lower road, I have none. those three could of died in that fire, I probably would of been happier than knowing they caused all this destruction and only get a unlawful fire charge. as for me having responsibility towards homeless losers in my community, negative. no way. their parents and family couldn't steer them right, so why would I ever try????? and if they weren't the losers they were, they probably would still have THEIR OWN families to help them out. and yes rehab would work on some, but they gotta want it on their own. did we forget the homeless murders a few months back? now a fire.. really Larry, I have no more compassion for the tweaked out underground on glendora. does it make you feel that much better to hand your picket change to someone so they can get high, then start fires? come on. good job Larry, your compassion has earned your way into those Christian pearly gates. its people like you with blind compassion that is gonna keep glendora in the state its in. people need to stand up and make them feel unwanted. cause they are. Larry, I am sure your backyard is big enough for a few tents. why are you not getting off your holy horse and offering them a place to set up camp? and giving them a hot shower and meal? and hell why are you not out there reading them a bedtime story.. when you have set up camp Larry and have honestly helped these people, don't come with your help others who don't want to help their self attitude.. good day..
Slim Jim January 17, 2014 at 01:38 PM
I am doing something to help these people every week. I am not just proclaiming ideals, I am making an attempt to make a difference with my money and my actions. I urge others to do the same. It will make the world a better place in the long run rather than complaining about imagined boogeymen. I think we all know each others' perspectives here. I really have nothing more to offer. I feel good about what I do in my life. I hope you do too.
Mark G January 21, 2014 at 11:30 AM
I'd sure like to know if any of the three involved in the fire happened to be a part of the SIXTY TWO bus loads of transients "imported" to Glendora between Dec 17th and Jan 16th. I only found out about this after discussing the fire and recent crime wave in my neighborhood with a friend who lives near the High School. He lives right between the two shelters hosting this program and has had nothing but problems in the past few weeks. After looking in to this a bit, I was more than a little alarmed to find that the bus schedule offering pick-up points in Baldwin Park, West Covina, La Puente, and El Monte offered sixty two buses IN to Glendora, but ZERO buses out. Is anyone else connecting the dots here, or are we not supposed to bring this up? Here's the schedule --> http://esgvchomeless.org/bus.shtml

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