AZUSA (CBSLA.com) — The San Gabriel Complex Fire, which has burned 5,399 acres since it broke out more than a week ago, is nearly out, and authorities are now working to salvage and protect the area from post-wildfire threats.
Authorities Wednesday night reopened Highway 39, which had been shut down at old San Gabriel Road amid last week’s evacuations from the foothills above Azusa and Duarte that saw 1,376 homes cleared due to the threat of the blaze. The evacuations were all called off Friday and an American Red Cross evacuation center to accommodate the residents was also closed.
The Complex Fire consists of two blazes that burned relatively close to each other, but haven’t merged. The Reservoir Fire above Azusa and the Fish Fire above Duarte, which have burned 1,146 acres and 4,253 acres respectively, are both 96 percent contained, Angeles National Forest officials said.
Concerns following the 10-day blaze include the loss of vegetation; soil exposed to erosion risks; and hazards stemming from the runoff of water used to battle the blaze including flooding, an increase of sediment and damage to critical natural resources, forest officials said.
Crews were on the scene Thursday to install water bars, which are water- or erosion-control ditches that channel water away from burn areas to help prevent erosion.
The Reservoir Fire broke out shortly after 11 a.m. June 20 off Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir dam north of Azusa, according to Sherry Rollman of the Forest Service. It was sparked by a vehicle running off Highway 39 near the reservoir, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said. One person died in that crash.
About 90 minutes, a second blaze was reported near Opal Canyon and Brookridge roads near the Duarte/Azusa border, about four miles southwest of the Reservoir Fire. That blaze, dubbed the Fish Fire, quickly roared into the foothills.
The two fires were designated as the San Gabriel Complex Fire, even though they never merged.
With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, forest officials issued stern reminders that fireworks are illegal every day in every forest and campsite. Drones are also restricted from the area, authorities said.
Fire condition information is available at (626) 574-5208.
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