Southern California, despite it being the middle of winter, is engulfed in flames yet again. So far, the wildfires have resulted in three arrests, the destruction of multiples homes and buildings, thousands of evacuations, and the flames continue to burn on.
Southern California is no stranger to wildfires, however extremely dry conditions over the last few years have heightened expectations for this years fire season to be particularly brutal. Although it may not strike residents of southern California as a surprise to see wildfires, northern Californians also had to contend with flames this winter.
Northern California’s Kimball Island was evacuated as flames, spurred on by dry windy conditions, ate up at least 40 acres. Controlling the flames was somewhat precarious for officials due to the fact that the Island can only be reached by boat. Officials eventually got a handle on the flames however and no one was injured. According to a Coast Guard official, the flames begun as a small brush fire but grew as a result of increasing winds.
Southern California has not been as fortunate as the small northern California Island. Glendora saw thousands of residents evacuated as a result of the flames from what is now being called the Colby Fire. The fire which was started accidentally by three campers has destroyed at least two homes, and has significantly clouded the neighboring residents’ Southern California skyline.
The Colby Fire begun before day break, and was started by three campers close to the San Gabriel Mountains. In just a matter of hours the winds had taken what was a campfire for three into a raging fire which scorched nearly 2000 acres of land. Three men were reported as seen leaving the area near the fire’s origination point, and police apprehended two men and later a third suspected of involvement in starting the flames.
The three Southern California men, Steven, Clifford, and Jonathan were questioned in connection to the flames, and one of the gentlemen reportedly admitted to starting the campfire. Police stated that there was no evidence that the three men had started the fire, however the men have admitted to starting a campfire. Police are calling the events an accident and say that part of the charges laid against the men will be “criminal stupidity.” The apprehended suspects were reportedly apologetic and remorseful.
The three campers stated that they, in trying to warm up, were adding paper to the flames when the famous Southern California winds apparently picked up and blew the embers which eventually caused the fire to spread.
Glendora and Azusa have been evacuated as a result of the flames, and it is unclear whether there will be additional evacuations or not. Two homes have been destroyed as a result of the Colby Fire, and officials say that the damage would have been much more significant had it not been for a lull in the winds which allowed them to gain some level of control over the flames.
Other areas of Southern California have been affected by flames as well. Riverside’s Jurupa Valley saw winds incite flames to destroy multiple cars and structures as they wept across a two-acre piece of land.
As the record dry conditions continue through the winter, Southern California is fighting off wildfires which have resulted in arrests, destruction and evacuations. Perhaps the worst news is that there could be much more of these conditions into the future, meaning a ripe environment for the dreaded wildfires.
As of now, officials continue to battle to gain total control of the Southern California flames.
By Daniel Worku