A Southern California wildfire burned 1,700 acres of land and three people are in custody. Thursday morning, gusty winds blew the wildfire across the mountainsides north of Los Angeles. The Colby fire started at 6 a.m. outside of Glendora. There is very little information available about the individuals in custody. It is unknown if they have been officially charged with setting the fire. A press conference has been scheduled for 11 a.m. PST, according to Nathan Judy, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service. He stated at 10 a.m. PST there was an estimated 1,700 acres burned.
Cpl. Nancy Miranda of the Glendora Police Department detained the three suspects when she saw them after a resident waved her over and pointed out the fleeing men as they ran down a hill in the opposite direction of the fire. Miranda stated the men were fleeing the fire by running down a wash beside the road. They seemed to be trying to hide and avoid notice, she said. When Miranda stopped the men, they claimed they were running away from the fire because they were scared. They said a third man was with them, but he was lost.When questioned, the men denied any knowledge about the fire, but the men appeared short of breath, disheveled and smelled of smoke. She detained the men for questioning.
Jeffers stated city officials have been busy assessing the damage. In addition, three people of interest have been detained and are being questioned by the Glendora Police Department. Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Tony Akins stated the fire’s cause is under investigation.
Approximately 550 firefighters, volunteer and fire officials are fighting the wildfire that has engulfed two homes and threatens many more, according to Los Angela’s County fire Inspector Keith Mora said, fire efforts have been assisted by two super scooper tanker planes and eight helicopters. Several law enforcement and fire agencies are working under a unified command.
Evacuations have been issued for residents to the north of Sierra Madre Ave. as firefighters in the air and on the ground attack the 125-acre wild fire burning near foothill neighborhoods Thursday morning in Southern California’s Angeles National Forest, where 1,700 acres has been burned by the wildfire. No answers have been forthcoming from the three individuals in custody regarding the cause of the fire.
The Colby Wildfire is located near Glendora, 30 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Black smoke is billowing over the San Gabriel Valley with wind gusts blowing embers into nearby neighborhoods, setting the dry palm trees and grasses ablaze. Several small fires have been started as sparks were blown by heavy winds gusting up to 25 mph, spreading the wildfire very aggressively, according to fire department officials.
Scott Miller, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector, said, people need to be aware that the Colby fire is spreading very aggressively, as wildfires do during the winter when the underlying dry brush burns quickly. He expressed the importance of residents evacuating the area immediately instead of trying to say behind to save their personal belongings. Lives are more important than physical belongings, he emphasized.
Miller told residents in the Glendora area to follow the evacuation orders and quickly leave the area, do not hesitate.
Scott Sukup, spokesperson for the Oxnard National Weather Service, stated the conditions in Southern California are perfect for a wildfire because of the dry, windy weather. A red flag alert was issued for parts of L.A. County until 3 p.m. Friday. Sukup stated wind gusts in the mountains could reach 40 to 50 mph with low humidity.
Gusty winds and dry conditions are driving this fire through the dead brush that covers the mountains, making the fire hard to fight. Similar conditions are expected to last until Friday with some relief when the winds are expected to ease off this weekend.
Classes have been cancelled in the Glendora Unified School District at Cullen, Sandburg, Sellers and La Fetra schools. Parents are urged to pick up their students and refer to the district’s website for any further concerns.
Residents race to evacuate as the Southern California wildfire continues to burn over 1,700 acres and three individuals are in custody waiting to be questioned about the blaze.
By Deborah Baran
Kansas City Star