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Colby Fire Suspects Expected In Court; Fire Crews Expect Full Containment

Credit: Angeles National Forest

This undated photo shows the Colby Fire threatening electrical infrastructure.

GLENDORA — The suspects in custody on suspicion of starting the nearly 2,000-acre Colby Fire last week are expected to appear in Los Angeles Federal Court Tuesday, the day when fire commanders expect the blaze to be fully contained.

Two of the three — Clifford Eugene Henry, Jr., 22, of Glendora, and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, a transient last known to live in Los Angeles — remained jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire. Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale remained jailed in lieu of $20,000 bail.

As of early Tuesday morning, they have yet to be charged by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab said the fire started when a gust of wind caught papers that the men had thrown on a campfire, blowing embers "all over the place'' soon after 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

The National Incident Fire Command website reported that the fire had consumed 1,952 acres by 6 p.m. Monday, and was 84 per cent contained.

Despite the difficulty faced with carving containment lines into the steep and rocky terrain to the north and east of Highway 39 and the Glendora Mountain Road, U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy expressed confidence full containment of the fire will be achieved Tuesday.

Incident commanders have begun to scale back the fight, with the assets devoted to fighting the fire now down to 813 firefighters — it had been more than 1,100 — along with one fixed-wing air tanker and two helicopters, Judy said.

Highway 39, north of Glendora into the Angeles National Forest, remains closed to all but residents.

Angeles National Forest

Smoke from the Colby Fire encroaches on a Glendora neighborhood in this undated photo.

The Colby Fire took its name from the community just north of Glendora and affected neighborhoods along the steep mountain slopes on ridges between Glendora and the San Gabriel River Canyon in the Angeles National Forest.

It has destroyed five homes, damaged 17 others, and injured six people, including five firefighters and a civilian, Judy said.

Residents of the Mountain Cove subdivision north of Azusa were allowed to return to their homes Saturday evening, just as red flag warnings expired, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Hundreds of other evacuees had been allowed to return home Friday.

At the peak of the blaze Thursday, fire descended from the mountains into residential neighborhoods as 1,175 firefighters, nine helicopters and two SuperScooper aircraft were thrown into an aggressive fire attack.

Six people were injured, including five firefighters and a woman who was hit by a burning palm frond that fell on her back.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | January 21, 2014 at 10:22 a.m. ― 11 months, 1 week ago

Something about this story troubles me.

Yes, what these guys are accused of doing was irresponsible, but were they deliberately trying to cause a fire?

From the limited information here, it sounds like they were trying to build a campfire when a gust of wind and fire-favorable conditions caused the fire to spread.

I realize this fire caused a lot of damage and resources, but I have a problem with getting out the torches and pitchforks IF this was just a stupid mistake by people trying to build a camping fire as opposed to a deliberate attempt to set the forest ablaze.

( | suggest removal )