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Colby fire east of Los Angeles is almost fully contained

Colby FireFEMA

The Colby fire that burned through the hills above Glendora and Azusa over the last week is 98% contained, officials said Wednesday.

The fire, allegedly sparked by an illegal campfire near Colby Trail and Glendora Mountain Road, began just before 6 a.m. Thursday and spread quickly in the steep terrain, fueled by strong winds and dry conditions.

Before long it had grown to more than 1,900 acres, destroyed five homes and damaged seven others, while forcing the evacuation of scores of nearby residents.

Fire officials called in more than a dozen aircraft to help and at times there were more than 1,100 fire personnel working to defeat the blaze.

On the same day the fire began, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it would provide funds to help the state fight the Colby fire.

The authorization makes FEMA funding available to reimburse up to 75% of the eligible firefighting costs, according to the agency.

Meanwhile, health officials over the last several days have issued air quality warnings due to thick smoke from the blaze.

Authorities said the blaze started when a gust of wind blew embers from an illegal campfire out into tinder dry brush. Three men -- Clifford Eugene Henry, 22, of Glendora; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 24, of Irwindale; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, described as a transient from Los Angeles -- have have been charged by federal prosecutors with illegally setting a campfire. They are expected to be arraigned Wednesday.

All three have admitted a role in the fire, according to a court affidavit. They could each face a five-year sentence if convicted of the felony offense.

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ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

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