AZUSA (CBSLA.com) — Crews were starting to get the upper hand against two brush fires in the Angeles National Forest Monday night above Duarte and Azusa. A combined 4,500 acres have burned. The fires are separated by about a mile and a half.
The first fire was reported about 11 a.m. near the Morris Reservoir and was dubbed the Reservoir Fire. It may have been sparked by a car that went over an embankment near the Morris Reservoir above Azusa. The Reservoir Fire has burned about 1,500 acres.
A second fire erupted in neighboring Duarte less than two hours later, about four miles away near Fish Canyon Road. It was named the Fish Fire, and initially burned closer to homes before flames turned away from local residential neighborhoods. The Fish Fire has burned over 3,000 acres.
The massive flames were flickering just feet from homes, including Debbie Crawford’s. She told KCAL she packed up her belongings just in case.
“Important papers, valuables, baby books, wedding albums — the pictures went out of the house first,” she said.
Kevin Karagozin said he only had a few minutes to grab what he could.
“Important documents, a bass [guitar], which was important to me,” he said, showing the few scattered envelopes and belongings in his car trunk to KCAL.
About 700 firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service and the L.A. County Fire Department were on the scene in the 100 degree heat.
“It just looked like frankly the world was ending,” said Karagozin. “You just look outside and see that the sky was red, there’s smoke everywhere, it looked like a scene from a movie.”
Jamie Drenk told KCAL she is hard of hearing and was thankful her neighbor knocked on her door to let her know what was going on.
“For the deaf people, please, get your things together before the fire happens. Don’t wait before it’s too late,” she warned.
Firefighters said the wind direction has been in their favor and homeowners say their hope is that it stays that way.
“I think we’d be in big trouble. There’s plenty to light, there’s lots of trees around here,” said Jim Renella.
Meanwhile, Crawford said she loves her home against the hills and is confident firefighters will keep it safe.
“It’s obviously intense and very scary to look up there, and then just very sad,” she said.
Firefighters told KCAL they will save the Crawfords’ homes and many others, thankfully.
One firefighter and one LA County Sheriff’s Deputy were treated for heat exhaustion.
Evacuation orders were issued in Duarte for Markwood Street, Deerlane Drive, Mount Olive Drive, Spinks Canyon Road, Rim Road, Goldenmeadow Drive, High Mesa Drive and Tall Pink Drive
Also evacuated were Azusa’s Mountain View area, Rainbow Ranch, and Fish Canyon Equestrian Center.
The Monrovia Fire Department advised residents east of Myrtle Avenue and north of Greystone Avenue to voluntarily evacuate or get ready to.
The Red Cross has set up an Evacuation Center at the Duarte Community Center, 1600 Huntington Drive. Information, meals and health services are available there.
Animals are being sheltered at the Fairplex in Pomona.
Highway 39 was closed, along with Glendora Mountain Road, Big Dalton Road, Glendora Ridge Road and Mt. Laurel Road.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory because of the fires.
Flames reached several electric transmission lines in the Duarte area, but there didn’t appear to be any immediate power disruption.