Yesterday around 6 a.m., campfire residue fueled by the Santa Ana winds turned into a full-blown wildfire in Angels National Forest. According to reports, the blaze had charred two-and-a-half square miles of brush in the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley by nightfall on Thursday, and embers were blown into surrounding neighborhoods, igniting palm trees and starting small spot fires.
Three men were arrested in connection with the fire, which forced some 3,700 people in the Glendora and Azusa areas to evacuate. The men have been identified as Clifford Henry, 20, of Glendora, Jonathan Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale, and Steven Aguirre, 21, most recently of Los Angeles. They were booked on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire despite the area being under “very high” fire danger restrictions, which prohibit campfires anywhere except designated fire rings.
According to Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab, all three suspects are cooperating with police. One even reported that they did in fact start a campfire and threw a piece of paper into the flames, after which time the wind picked up. Each is being held on $500,000 bond, up from $20,000.
The fire did not increase in size overnight thanks to calmer winds and a crew of 1,000 firefighters reinforcing containment lines. As of today, officials are reporting that the fire is 30% contained. Nine helicopters and two fixed-wing aircrafts are aiding in relief efforts by dousing the flames with water.
At this time, five homes have been destroyed and an additional 17 buildings have been damaged. Two firefighters and one civilian have also suffered injuries as a result of the fire.