San Gabriel Complex fire: 4,900 acres burned, 15 percent contained

- Some Duarte residents evacuated from their homes were cleared to return Thursday as firefighters kept up their campaign against the 4,900-acre San Gabriel Complex Fire, which was 15 percent contained.

About 950 firefighters are battling the blazes in the Angeles National Forest and the foothills above Duarte and Azusa. They previously were called the Fish and Reservoir fires before authorities decided on the San Gabriel Complex Fire designation even though the blazes, burning about 1.5 miles apart, have not merged.

Residents of approximately 534 out of 995 evacuated homes in Duarte -- north of Royal Oaks Drive, east of Greenbank Avenue and west of Encanto Parkway -- were given the green light Wednesday to return home, which some will be doing today.

Sgt. Bob Boese of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said in a statement that residents of Duarte's Mesa area who live on Mount Olive Drive north of Woodlyn Lane, Spinks Canyon, Rim Road, Golden Meadow Drive and High Mesa Drive remain under evacuation orders.

In Duarte's Las Lomas area, residents who live north of Royal Oaks Drive, west of Tocino Drive and east of Mount Olive Road remain evacuated.

Small animals such as dogs and cats were allowed back in with residents, but livestock and large private vehicles were not, because roadways need to remain accessible to large fire trucks. "Please remember that security will be a priority," a sheriff's department official said, adding that residents will need to show
identification.

There were 326 homes evacuated in Azusa. Evacuations remain in effect in areas north of Royal Oaks Drive, west of Tocino Drive and east of Mount Olive Road.

Evacuations in the Mountain Cove area remain in effect, as fire officials cited unpredictable weather and wind conditions as a threat to the community. Azusa police have coordinated escorts for evacuated residents to
retrieve their belongings from their homes. Escorts will be provided between 8a.m. to noon and 4 p.m. thru 8 p.m. Thursday off of Ranch Road, police said.

Officials Wednesday said an area of concern is a hillside in a residential area in Bradbury. Patrolling deputies will be on a "fire watch" in the area to assist firefighters in spotting flames in case the wind shifts toward the homes.

Residents who live in Bradbury off of Mount Olive Drive -- those who voluntarily evacuated -- can now return to their homes, Boese said. This area spans the streets of Gardi Street, Freeborn Street, Elda Street, Spring Point
Drive, Fairlee Avenue and Mount Olive Lane.

Those who return will need to show their identification to deputies in the area, and residents cannot bring their livestock home until at least 24 hours after they return home. Large vehicles, including trailers and RVs, are
also prohibited from the area.

About 80 sheriff's authorities remain on duty at the fires, with 44 deputies patrolling the evacuated areas, Boese said.

No other mandatory evacuations were implemented, Boese said, adding that more could be made depending on fire conditions.

Los Angeles County Fire Department Deputy Chief John Tripp advised residents of Bradbury and Monrovia on Tuesday to pay attention to news coverage of the fire, and have their evacuation plans ready in case they are ordered out of their homes, as the west side of the fire was the main area of concern.

Figures released Wednesday indicate that the Fish Fire has scorched about 1,200 acres and the Reservoir Fire has scorched about 3,700 acres. 

Officials said 1,404 firefighting personnel from both the county and U.S. Forest Service have been deployed to battle the flames.

The Reservoir Fire broke out shortly after 11 a.m. Monday off Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir dam north of Azusa, according to Sherry Rollman of the U.S. Forest Service. It grew to 1,500 acres by 10 p.m. Monday and 2,400 acres by daybreak Tuesday, forest authorities said.

The fire was sparked by a vehicle running off the highway, as officials received a report at 10:57 a.m. Monday of a fatal car crash along Highway 39 near the reservoir where the fire broke out, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said.

About 90 minutes after the Reservoir Fire began, 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, burning north away from homes but threatening some remote horse stables.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital around 6 p.m. Monday with "minor injuries" related to heat exhaustion, and a sheriff's deputy suffered similar injuries earlier that day, fire authorities said.

No other injuries were reported.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies early Tuesday announced additional road closures linked to the fires. They are located at:

  • Mount Olive Drive at Royal Oaks Drive
  • Vineyard Avenue at Markwood Street
  • Woodbluff Street from Sunnydale Drive
  • Greenbank Avenue from Deerlane Drive
  • Conata Street at Bettyhill Avenue
  • Mel Canyon Road at Opal Canyon Road
  • Mountain Crest Road at Fish Canyon Road
  • Encanto parkway at Markwood Street
  • Mount Olive Drive at Woodlyn Lane; and
  • Mount Olive Drive at Elda Street.

The Red Cross established an evacuation center at the Duarte Community Center, located at 1600 Huntington Drive.

Smoke from both fires billowed into the air, creating a plume visible for miles, including from downtown Los Angeles.

Fish and game officials were on the scene in response to reports of bears fleeing the area, FOX 11 reported.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory because of the blazes, urging residents in smoke-affected areas to avoid strenuous outdoor activity. Those with respiratory or heart disease, older adults and children were advised to remain indoors.

Evacuations & Centers:

Evacuation orders were issued in Azusa for the Mountain Cove, El Encanto and Rainbow Ranch areas, with an evacuation center established at Memorial Park, 320 N. Orange Ave. Voluntary evacuations were in effect for the Mirador and Crystal Canyon areas.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Duarte Mesa residents living above Markwood Street between Westvale Road and Tocino Drive, and above Conata between Tocino Drive and Mountain Crest Road.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued earlier for residents on Brookridge Road, with voluntary evacuations in effect for residents north of Fish Canyon Road from Greenbank Avenue to Encanto Parkway.

An evacuation center has been set up at Duarte City Hall/Senior Center, located at 1610 Huntington Dr. in Duarte.

Large animals can be taken to the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center at 11127 Orcas Ave. in Sylmar, and small pets can be taken to Wonder Dog Ranch at 220 Taylor St. in Monrovia.

Campgrounds and other areas were evacuated in the Angeles National Forest south of the Crystal Lake area.

According to the county Department of Public Works, about 600 homes total were evacuated due to the fires.

Highway 39 was blocked in the Angeles National Forest due to the Reservoir Fire. Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road were also closed.  

 

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