Even though the Glendora fire that has been raging in the Angeles National Forest in California since Thursday is now under control, officials have said it is expected to continue to burn until midnight on Wednesday. According to incident commander, Mike Wakoski, it will take another four days to achieve “full containment.”
This most recent Glendora fire broke out in the forest above the city after three men had allegedly been sitting around an illegal campfire they had lit. It is thought that they were throwing timber into the fire to keep it burning.
All three were arrested when they were spotted running down the mountain away from the wildfire that was sparked by a sudden breeze. They have been named as Clifford Eugene Henry Jr, 22, Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, and are expected to be charged with “unlawfully causing timber to burn” in Glendora early this week.
While the Glendora police have said the men were “apologetic” about what had happened, it is understood that they found cigarettes and marijuana in their backpacks. Bail of between $20,000 and $500,000 was raised for each of the suspects. None of them has a criminal record.
Conditions in California have been excessively dry, leading Governor Jerry Brown to institute a state of emergency for drought on Friday last week. A red flag warning of critical danger has been in place for almost a week, alerting the public to the extremely high risk of wildfires.
Thursday’s Glendora fire started close to Colby Road and the Colby Trail, which is why it has been dubbed the Colby Fire. Once the fire started, it spread very fast, moving downhill threatening houses and other buildings. An estimated 1,909 acres of bush and forest was scorched, and around 3,700 people were forced to evacuate their homes. It is understood that at least six houses were destroyed and five damaged, but nobody was injured. At one stage it was reported that more than 1,000 structures were under threat from the fire.
Resources used for the Glendora included 45 hand crews, 104 fire engines, three helicopters, four air tankers, and four bulldozers. A total of 1,112 personnel were deployed to fight the fire.
Wakoski reported that by late Saturday the fire was 61% contained, but would remain under the “unified command” of the Los Angeles County Sheriff, Los Angeles County Fire Department, the USDA Forest Service, and the Azusa Police Department.
Residents were all allowed to return home on Saturday, even though the community at Mountain Cove remained under threat from the Glendora fire. The National Forest Service warned that only those permanently living there could return, and they should be alert to the danger of rock falls on roadways. Highway 39 to the north of Mountain Cove was to remain closed.
The final word came from Wakoski who said he estimated that full containment would “occur around midnight on Wednesday” January 22. This means that the Glendora fire will continue to smolder and burn for at least another four days. Residents and those passing through should exercise extreme caution.
By Penny Swift