Colby Fire Near Glendora Nears Full Containment - FOX 13 News

Colby Fire Near Glendora Nears Full Containment

Posted: Updated:
Glendora, CA -

(FOX 11/ CNS)The final group of residents evacuated due to the Colby
Fire north of Azusa and Glendora were able to spend their first night home
since the blaze started Thursday as firefighters announced more progress
encircling the blaze, which is expected to be fully contained by Wednesday.

As of this morning, the fire was 78 percent contained, having burned
1,906 acres while destroying five homes, damaging 17 other structures and
causing three injuries, officials said.

Firefighters made great progress overnight increasing containment to 78
percent and still 1,906 acres," said public information officer Marc Peebles.

Residents of the Mountain Cove subdivision north of Azusa finally got
the go-ahead to return to their homes at 6 p.m. Saturday, just as Red Flag
Warnings expired, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Hundreds of other evacuees had been allowed to return home on Friday.

Full containment -- originally expected for today -- was pushed back to
Wednesday, Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service said.

"Everything is fluid," Judy said, adding firefighters set backfires
today and worked to extend and fortify containment lines. "We have to get
boots all the way around this fire to call this thing completely out."

 Judy said firefighters are dealing with steep, sometimes inaccessible, terrain.

"We want to make sure everyone is safe before they go in there," he said.

The fire was allegedly set by a trio of young men tossing papers into a
campfire at 5:50 a.m. Thursday near Glendora Mountain Road.

Heavy smoke from the blaze also sparked concerns about poor air
quality, especially for people with existing respiratory issues, according to
Air Quality Management District officials. People in affected areas were urged
to stay indoors with air conditioning.

About 1,175 personnel were on the fire lines, along with nine helicopters and two SuperScooper aircraft.

The three people injured included a woman who was hit by a burning palm
frond that fell on her back. One firefighter suffered an ankle injury that did
not require hospitalization, and an other was taken to a hospital for treatment
of a minor burn.

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, remained jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail on suspicion of recklessly
starting a fire. The men might face federal charges because the fire started on
U.S. Forest Service land, but the U.S. Attorney's Office said charges are still
pending.

 

PREVIOUSLY


FOX 11 / CNS) A blaze that was allegedly set by a trio of people tossing papers into a campfire scorched about 1,700 acres today in the Angeles National Forest north of Glendora, destroying two homes and leaving at least one person injured with minor burns.

The so-called Colby Fire was reported around 5:50 a.m. near San Gabriel Canyon Road, fire officials said. Fueled by gusting winds and fed by exceedingly dry vegetation, the fire quickly exploded across hundreds of acres, torching at least two homes in its path, according to Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby. Osby said one civilian suffered minor burns.

A county firefighter suffered an ankle injury around midday and was taken to Foothill Presbyterian Hospital. That injury was also considered minor, fire officials 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 responded to the scene and took three people into custody and later arrested. 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.''

He said all three men, one of whom he described as "apologetic,'' were being held at the Glendora city jail on $20,000 bail on suspicion of recklessly starting a 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 this fire.'' Staab said the area where the men were was not a camping area, but people are known to camp in the hills above Glendora.

"They told us they were camping out,'' he said. "There's no evidence to indicate they were living up there.'' Azusa police estimated that between 1,700 and 2,000 people were evacuated from the area, and 870 homes were affected. One of the homes that was lost was a guest house on the nearly 6-acre campus of the Singer Mansion, a 1920s estate built by heirs to the Singer sewing machine fortune on Kregmont Drive.

Evacuations were ordered north of Sierra Boulevard between Glendora Mountain Road and Highway 39. Roads were also closed north of Sierra Madre Boulevard between Lorraine and Highway 39. An evacuation center was established at Finkbiner Park, near Foothill Boulevard and Grand Avenue in Glendora. The American Red Cross later set up an evacuation center at Glendora High School, 1600 E. Foothill Blvd.

Deputy Chief John Tripp of the Los Angeles County Fire Department said he understands residents were anxious to return home, but they should be prepared to wait as embers continue to endanger the area. "This is going to remain unsafe for the public for at least the rest of the day,'' Tripp said.

Evacuated pets can be brought to the Pasadena Humane Society at 361 S. Raymond Ave, according to the humane society. A shelter for evacuated horses was set up at the Fairplex, Gate 12, 1101 W. McKinley Ave., in Pomona.

School closures in Glendora included Cullen, La Fetra and Sellers elementary schools; and Goddard and Sandburg middle schools. Goddard Middle School at 859 E. Sierra Madre Ave. was designated to serve as the unified command post.

Citrus College in Glendora was closed today because of the fire, said college spokeswoman Paula Green. She urged students and staff to keep track of developments affecting the school by checking the website at www.citrustruscollege.edu. Also closed was St. Lucy's Priory High School.

Jim Hall of the U.S. Forest Service said at least 700 firefighters were on the scene, aided by eight air tankers and seven helicopters. Osby said that although two homes were burned, fire crews were able to respond quickly to the area due to fire-weather conditions that have gripped the area for the past three days. "Because of our preparation, we were able to save hundreds, if not thousands, of homes this morning,'' he said.

Glendora Mountain Road was closed, and traffic was slowing on the westbound Foothill (210) Freeway, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Los Angeles County fire officials are putting out public information about evacuations, closings and news related to the wildfire in Glendora via the Twitter handle @LACountyCEO.

 

From Phil Shuman:

Was it luck or preparation or both ?

Believe me the fine folks of Glendora and Azusa and the surrounding foothill communities could have been dealing with a major disaster, loss of multiple homes and maybe lives, were it not for several factors coming together.  

First we were in a 'red flag ' warning time, heightened awareness by the public and also by firefighters, with increased staffing and resources pre deployed. Then, the weather was cooperative, specifically, there was relatively mild wind that seemed to die away altogether as the day went on.  Then there's the skill and experience of our firefighters, on the ground and in the air, at the Federal State and local level.  I'm the first (well among the first) to criticize if and when something goes wrong, but I have to say I marvel at the expertise , the determination, and the strategy needed to coordinate a response of almost 1000 firefighters, helicopters, aircraft, and those amazing ''super scoopers'' we lease from our friends in Canada. 

That is money well spent. We should lease a dozen of them. All of these things came together so that ''only'' a  handful of homes were lost, and as far as I know there were no serious injuries. Fires are scary, you have moments to evacuate, you have no idea if your precious home and belongings are going to be there when it's over.  Fortunately, this time, for almost everyone, it had a happy ending. It wasn't luck. It's a good news bad news scenario that our firefighters have a lot of experience doing what they do so hats off to them.

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