2 fires char 5,400 acres with no containment in Angeles National Forest

ByLeo Stallworth and ABC7.com staff KABC logo
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
2 fires rage through Angeles National Forest with no containment
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Two fast-moving brush fires continue to burn through dry brush, charring a total of 5,400 acres in the Angeles National Forest above Azusa and Duarte early Tuesday morning.

AZUSA, Calif. -- Two fast-moving brush fires continue to burn through dry brush in the Angeles National Forest above Azusa and Duarte Tuesday.

The fires, dubbed the Reservoir Fire and Fish Fire, have burned a total of 5,400 acres, and neither have been contained. While the two fires have not merged, fire officials are now referring to them as the San Gabriel Complex Fire.

The Fish Fire has prompted mandatory evacuations in Duarte and fire officials are considering issuing some for Monrovia and the Bradbury area.

Los Angeles County Fire Deputy Chief John Tripp said progress on the Fish Fire's east bank was controlled, but they are worried about the west flank because it has a massive amount of fuel that has never burned.

The weather is expected to cool down over the next few days, but Tuesday will still be hot with very dry conditions. Red flag warnings are still in effect until Tuesday night for Los Angeles County mountain areas of the Angeles National Forest, the Santa Monica mountains and the Ventura County mountain areas of Los Padres National Forest.

California Highway Patrol officers received a call around 10:57 a.m. Monday about a pickup truck going over the embankment of Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir Dam. The truck caught fire, which officials believe may have sparked the blaze. About 90 minutes later, the Fish Fire broke out above Duarte and quickly began to spread through the brush.

Water drops were continued overnight in an effort to keep the fires away from homes.

The Reservoir Fire has burned about 2,400 acres, and the Fish Fire has scorched about 3,000 acres, according to fire officials.

PHOTOS: 2 fires burn above Azusa, Duarte in Angeles National Forest

The two brush fires are only a mile and a half apart. About 610 firefighters from multiple agencies are working to control the fires. One firefighter suffered heat exhaustion during the firefight amid triple-digit temperatures.

Evacuations ordered in Azusa and Duarte

Azusa police ordered evacuations for Mountain Cove, Rainbow Canyon Ranch and El Encanto. An evacuation center was set up at Duarte Community Center, 1600 Huntington Dr., and at Memorial Park, 320 N. Orange Ave.

For the city of Duarte, an evacuation order was issued for homes north of Fish Canyon between Encanto Parkway and Greenbank Avenue, Brookridge Road and Opal Canyon Road.

Officials later announced extended mandatory evacuations for areas north of Markwood Street between Westvale Road and Greenbank Avenue, areas north of Deerlane Drive between Greenbank Avenue and Mountain Crest Road. Residents in the Mount Olive Drive area just northwest of Conata Street, including residents in the Spinks Canyon Road, Rim Road, Goldenmeadow Drive, High Mesa Drive, and Tall Pink Drive areas were also mandated to evacuate the area.

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.

Though there were no mandatory evacuations in effect for Monrovia, officials urged residents east of Myrtle Avenue and north of Greystone Avenue to prepare for possible evacuations if winds change direction or increase in intensity.

According to Los Angeles County Fire Chief Deputy David Richardson, 320 structures were evacuated near Azusa and 450 structures evacuated in the Duarte and Bradbury area.

About 600 residents in the Duarte area have been affected by the blaze, and 770 homes were evacuated north of Royal Oaks Drive, west of Encanto Parkway and east of Mt. Olive Drive.

Smoke advisory issued

Smoke from the forest fires was seen by residents across the Southland, including West Covina, Alhambra and Brea.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory due to the fires. AQMD officials said air quality could reach unhealthy levels in areas impacted by smoke, including portions of the East San Gabriel Valley, the Pomona/Walnut Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains and metropolitan Riverside.

The public was urged to exercise caution and avoid unnecessary outdoor activities in any area directly impacted by smoke.

Road closures caused by Fish Fire

The Fish Fire has prompted road closures for the following streets:

  • 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
  • Mount Olive Drive at Elda Street

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.