Suspect sought in connection with Azusa blaze

Osmin Palencia

A 36-year-old homeless man, who authorities believe to be violent, is wanted by authorities for questioning "in connection to starting'' the 1,500-acre fire burning in Azusa, which investigators have determined to be arson.

Osmin Palencia's last known residence is an encampment in the Azusa
Canyon Riverbed, near the start of the Ranch 2 Fire, according to the Azusa
Police Department.

The Ranch 2 Fire was reported about 2:45 p.m. Thursday near North San
Gabriel Canyon Road and North Ranch Road, according to the Azusa Police
Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department, which called in a second-alarm response.

The blaze was 0% contained and had blackened about 1,500 acres as of
4:50 p.m. Friday, according to the Angeles National Forest. Fire officials had
initially reported the blaze burned 2,500 acres, but firefighters updated the
number after they "were able to more accurately assess fire size and map the
area after the smoke inversion lifted'' Friday afternoon.

Residents in the Mountain Cove area of Azusa were allowed to go home Friday morning after evacuation orders were lifted because the blaze, re-named the Ranch 2 Fire, was no longer burning toward homes, according to Daniela
Zepeda of the U.S. Forest Service.

"Firefighters did a really good job securing the perimeter of the fire closer to homes,'' Zepeda said. That is despite having an army of just 100 firefighters and waiting for reinforcements.''

The name of the blaze was changed from the Ranch Fire to the Ranch 2
Fire to avoid confusion with the November 2019 Ranch Fire near the Mendocino
National Forest and the July 2018 Ranch Fire that was part of the Mendocino
Complex Fire, Zepeda said.

Anyone with information about Palencia's whereabouts was encouraged to
contact the Azusa Police Department at 626-812-3200.