GLENDORA (CBSLA.com) — Five homes have been confirmed burned by the wind-whipped Colby Fire in Glendora, which also damaged another 17 buildings, including a guest house at the historic Singer Mansion.
Hundreds of fire personnel and law enforcement and more than a dozen firefighting aircraft have been called in to fight the 1,700-acre Colby Fire, which has prompted the mandatory evacuation of 3,700 residents.
One of the buildings that was destroyed was a guest house on the campus of the historic Singer Mansion, 1150 Kregmont Drive, which is listed as a Glendora Historic Landmark. The 14-bedroom, 12-bathroom mansion, built in 1924 by a member of the Singer sewing machine family, was home to the owner and at least 10 tenants. The main house on the campus was saved, however.
A man who identified himself as the Singer Mansion’s owner, Robert Gonzales, said the garage and the rooms above – where several tenants lived – burned down.
A resident who identified himself as Rudy said he only able to get out with the clothes on his back and was not able to even grab his wallet or driver’s license.
“We had to leave, we went down to Craigmont down at the bottom of the driveway because we couldn’t stay up here, it was too much,” he said. “The flames were all around us, as you can see the trees are all burned. So we got out because it was dangerous and the smoke was horrendous. It was really bad.”
Several homeowners opted to defy the mandatory evacuation orders to protect their homes.
“I didn’t think it was going to come down the street or nothing like that,” Glendora homeowner Gary Herring said. “There was a couple hundred yards above my house where helicopters were dropping retardants or water, whatever on the flames. They were doing a good job of keeping it from going any further.”
At the top of Conifer Road, John Palo had to leave behind a home that has been in his family for generations. Flames destroyed the home and the truck that broke down as Palo and his wife were evacuating.
“The fire, within an hour, was massive and moving real quick as the sun started coming up, and the wind started coming up, and it started spreading,” Palo said. “And I made note to my wife, that across the canyon that it was getting close to a friend’s house, and then within 10 minutes it was right outside our house. It had completely skipped over the canyon and it was raining burning embers all around the house.”
LA County Firefighter Capt. Paul Oyler said he and his crew arrived to find flames approaching a handful of homes they were able to save, but unfortunately, Palo’s home was not among them.
“If we had continued on, it could have been really ugly for us, safety wise,” Oyler said. “I walked up there after the fire calmed down a little bit. It’s heartbreaking for us, even, I can’t imagine what it’s like for the homeowners.”