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.
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.
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.
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.