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Firefighters Continue Effort Against Colby Fire

Photo by Aaron Castrejon.
Photo by Aaron Castrejon.
From City News Service

Firefighters were setting backfires this morning as they continued to battle a blaze that was allegedly set by a trio of young men tossing papers into a campfire, destroying five homes, damaging 17 other structures and causing minor injuries to three people.
  
The Colby Fire, which had scorched 1,709 acres in the Angeles National Forest north of Glendora and Azusa, was 30 percent contained. It was reported around 5:50 a.m. Thursday near Glendora Mountain Road, where responding firefighters found a four- to five-acre blaze, according to Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Chief John Tripp.
  
Fueled by gusting winds and fed by exceedingly dry vegetation, the fire exploded across hundreds of acres. Late Thursday afternoon, firefighters had halted the fire's forward progress, Tripp said.
  
One resident -- a woman who suffered a minor burn while trying to fight the fire -- was injured but not taken to a hospital, he said.
  
Two firefighters were also injured. One of them suffered an ankle injury that did not require hospitalization, while the other was taken to a hospital for treatment of a minor burn, Tripp said.
  
Glendora police Chief Tim Staab said a resident called police shortly after the fire began and reported seeing at least two people near what was believed to be the origin of the blaze.
  
Officers went to the scene and took three people into custody. They were identified as Clifford Eugene Henry Jr., 22, of Glendora; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, Irwindale; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, a transient last known
to live in Los Angeles.
  
"Reportedly, they were up, they had set a campfire," Staab said.

"They were tossing papers into the campfire and a breeze -- reportedly -- a breeze had kicked up and set this fire."
  
Staab described one of the suspects as "apologetic." All three were being held at the Glendora city jail in lieu of$500,000 bail on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire, according to sheriff's online booking records.
  
The bail amounts, originally $20,000 for each suspect, were increased due to the amount of property damage from the fire, according to Glendora police Sgt. Michael Henderson.
  
The men are due in court in West Covina on Tuesday, according to the sheriff's department.
  
"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 this fire."
  
Evacuations for residents in Azusa north of Sierra Madre and east of Azusa Avenue is still in effect, according to Xavier Torres of the Azusa Police Department.

"There is still fire burning on the backside of the hill closest to the city, immediately above the evacuated area. It is an active fire and firefighters are working hard to control the fire," Torres said.

About 2,000 residents are displaced and 870 are evacuated, authorities said.

—Aaron Castrejon contributed to this report
John B. Greet January 17, 2014 at 12:28 PM
Praying for all of the residents and animals and, most especially, for the public safety personnel trying to get this thing under control.
Gina Tenorio (Editor) January 17, 2014 at 12:38 PM
Well said John.
Larry S January 17, 2014 at 03:45 PM
Not enough superlatives or compliments for the people who have been fighting this fire. They have done an outstanding job!
Gina Tenorio (Editor) January 17, 2014 at 08:23 PM
Thank you Larry. Yes a lot more can be said. If anyone wants to express gratitude toward those emergency workers who took part in the firefight, that is most certainly encouraged.
Kate Kelly January 18, 2014 at 01:12 PM
Everyone in Monrovia okay? I'm in Austin but my roommate is home and wont pick up the freaking phone.

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