Brush fire scorches 225 acres of Montebello Hills riverbed

MONTEBELLO, CA (FOX 11 / CNS) Crews Monday fought a fire -- apparently the work of an arsonist -- that charred about 200 acres in the Montebello Hills and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, authorities said.

Authorities have arrested a man suspected of causing so-called Lincoln Fire, which scorched an estimated 200 acres after it broke out in a riverbed in More than 100 firefighters have battled the Montebello Hills portion of the fire since Sunday afternoon, said Montebello Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Amador. The blaze was around 30 percent contained today.

Montebello police identified the man as 45-year-old Arturo Miallan Aguilar and said he was arrested on suspicion of arson and negligent fire.  He was booked into the Montebello jail Sunday night in lieu of $35,000 bail, according to  Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department records. A Tuesday court appearance was scheduled.

SuperScoopers and bulldozers were called in to battle the brush fire, which was reported about 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the Rio Hondo riverbed near the Whittier Narrows Reservoir, Montebello Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Amador told City News Service. The blaze jumped roads and threatened oil fields and structures in the area, though none burned, Amador said.

A huge plume of black smoke was visible from across Los Angeles and Orange counties, as heavy brush burned just southwest of the interchange of the Pomona (60) and San Gabriel Valley (605) freeways.

Four firefighters were injured fighting the blaze, Amador said. One suffered heat exhaustion, one suffered a shoulder injury, one an eye injury, and one firefighter complained of neck and back pain after a Los Angeles County Fire Department helicopter made a hard landing at Rose Hills Cemetery due to a 
mechanical problem. Some structures were threatened, but crews managed to protect them, Amador said.

The portion of the fire in Montebello was largely knocked down by about 5:15 p.m. Sunday, with about 50 acres burned, Amador said. Including a portion of the fire burning in an unincorporated area north of the point of origin, about 200 acres have burned, according to Amador and a county fire department dispatch supervisor.

Two recently arrived SuperScooper water-dropping aircraft leased to the county from the Province of Quebec assisted brushfire strike teams battling the fire. The fixed-wing planes were skimming water from the lake at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area, according to Irwindale police.

Firefighters from departments in Monterey Park, Monrovia, Arcadia, Pasadena, South Pasadena, Glendale and San Gabriel were assisting in the firefight, according to a report from the scene. Some area homes were subject to voluntary evacuations. The fire closed stretches of Lincoln Avenue, San Gabriel and Rosemead boulevards and Durfee Avenue, according to Montebello police and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The eastbound Pomona Freeway was closed at San Gabriel Boulevard as of 5 p.m. Sunday but reopened about 8:30 p.m.. according to the California Highway Patrol.

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