Los Angeles County public health officials on Friday issued an air-quality alert as crews continued to fight the Colby fire, which has displaced roughly 2,000 people in Azusa affected by mandatory evacuation orders.
The fire, which started early Thursday above neighboring Glendora, has so far consumed 1,709 acres and destroyed five homes, officials said. Crews were able to hold fire-break lines overnight, stopping the forward progress of the blaze and keeping containment at 30%.
But Azusa Police Lt. Paul Dennis said mandatory evacuation orders for those living north of Sierra Madre Avenue and east of Azusa Avenue would remain in place indefinitely, saying the situation remained extremely dangerous. He also cited the dangers of loosened rocks that were falling onto Highway 39.
“It’s unsafe," he told reporters.
More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the fire Friday, which forecasters said would see calmer winds. The main goal was to increase containment of the blaze, which officials said was sparked by an illegal campfire.
"Overall, we had much success with the weather giving us the opportunity to fight aggressively and make a stand," Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Keith Mora said.
Mora said nine helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft were helping to douse the flames. Bulldozers were also reinforcing and cutting containment lines around the blaze.
The fire broke out along Glendora Mountain Road by the Colby truck trail and was initially fueled by strong Santa Ana winds, sending a huge plume of smoke and ash into the air.
L.A. County public health officials, meanwhile, also warned that the fire had created unhealthy air-quality conditions Friday for residents in the San Gabriel Valley and Pomona.
In areas where there is an odor of smoke or where it's visible, the public is urged to avoid "unnecessary" outdoor activities. Schools in smoke-affected areas were also urged to suspend outside physical activities for students, including physical education and after-school sports, until conditions improve.
The warning extends for people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory disease throughout Los Angeles County.
"It is difficult to tell where ash or soot from a wildfire will go, or how winds will affect the level of dust particles in the air, so we ask all individuals to be aware of their immediate environment and how it might affect their health," Public Health Director Jonathan Fielding said in a statement.