GLENDORA (CBSLA.com) — The Colby Fire burning in Glendora remained 30 percent contained Friday evening as crews continue to battle hotspots, officials said.
The fire, which was allegedly sparked by three men in their twenties around 5:50 a.m. Thursday, has burned more than 1,800 acres in the foothills near the Angeles National Forest.
Overnight crews put engines in place to stand guard over the nearby communities, and about 1,100 firefighters were deployed Friday morning, along with nine helicopters and two SuperScooper aircrafts. They were battling flareups and clearing the dry brush.
“The conditions are such that they still continue to be extreme with the draft and the weather conditions being the Santa Ana winds, but we will continue to work very hard as far as moving forward with suppressing this fire,” Tom Contreras with the US Forest Service said.
The fast-moving blaze destroyed five single-family homes and damaged 17 additional buildings and residences, including a guest house on the property of the Singer Mansion.
Three people were injured, including a woman who was hit by a burning palm frond and two firefighters, one of whom suffered an ankle injury.
About 3,500 Glendora and Azusa residents were evacuated from the area north of Sierra Madre Avenue between Glendora Mountain Road and Highway 39. Evacuation orders in Glendora were lifted around 6 p.m.
At 4 p.m. Friday, those who reside in the areas between Yucca Ridge and Ranch Road, Crystal Canyon Condo Complex and Mirador Housing Tract will be allowed to return to their homes.
“Residents of Mountain Cove are NOT allowed back to their residences. There is still concern for the roadway and homes in that area. Firefighters are still working in the area,” Azusa police said.
The three suspects arrested, 23-year-old Jonathan Jarrell of Irwindale, 22-year-old Clifford Henry Jr. of Glendora and 21-year-old transient Steven Aguirre, allegedly started a campfire early Thursday morning when the wind picked up and sparked the rapidly spreading Colby Fire. They were booked on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire and were being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.
The men say the fire was accidental and were “apologetic,” according to law enforcement. They will be released to federal custody in the next few days.
Jeff Nguyen, reporting for CBS2, said that firefighters were starting to use the fire to their advantage in places allowing small fires to clear areas of brush.
He also said firefighters and police were working literal overtime to keep everyone safe.
“We really want to keep this a firefighting mission and not turn it into a rescue mission,” said Capt. Frank Chavez of the Azusa Police Department.
Dropping fire retardant on the areas closest to the burn areas was another big part of today’s strategy to fight the blaze.
“We’re having flare ups with the black area. So you have the fire perimeter, you have unburned fuel. And that’s what’s burning off right now,” said Nathan Judy with the US Forest Service.