Crews continued to battle the Colby fire burning near Glendora and Azusa on Friday, reporting progress as winds remained calm and more residents were allowed to return home.
More than 1,100 firefighters, aided by about a dozen aircraft, worked to build and strengthen containment lines as the blaze grew to about 1,863 acres, up from 1,700 on Thursday. It remained about 30% contained Friday evening.
"Things are looking good on the fire," said Mike Wakowski, a commander of a multi-agency incident team. "It's not moving like it sure did."
Mandatory evacuations were lifted for many Azusa residents but remained in effect for about 300 homes in Mountain Grove because of ongoing fire and rock activity near California 39, officials said.
Just before 6 a.m. Thursday, three men started an illegal campfire near Colby Trail and Glendora Mountain Road, said Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab. The men were cold, he said, and were tossing paper into the fire when a gust of wind "just blew embers all over the place."
The suspects — identified by police as Clifford Eugene Henry, 22, of Glendora; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, a Los Angeles transient — were arrested within hours on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire. Staab said Friday the men would face federal charges, expected to be filed next week.
At least five homes were destroyed and 17 other structures damaged. Officials said at least three people, including two firefighters, were injured.
A red-flag warning was extended across Southern California through Saturday, but officials said they were hopeful the weather would remain in their favor.
"It's a forecast, and we deal with Mother Nature out here and what she deals us. However, it is anticipated that we will not experience what we had earlier in the week," said L.A. County Fire Deputy Chief David Richardson.
Meanwhile, neighborhoods began to pick up the pieces. Firefighters continued to patrol Glendora streets as smoke wafted from scorched trees and bushes.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times