Fearing possible mudslides, Glendora and Azusa have issued mandatory evacuation orders for residents living in areas impacted by the Colby fire.In Glendora, residents north of Sierra Madre Avenue between Yucca Ridge Road and Glendora Mountain Road must evacuate. In Azusa, the order applies to residents on Ridge View Drive.
Authorities have said that more than 1,000 homes are threatened by a possible mudslide and that the evacuations are being ordered as a precaution.
An evacuation center is located at the Crowther Center, 241 W. Dawson Ave., in Glendora.
Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab urged residents to heed the evacuation orders and clear the area.
“I understand that when there’s fires, you want to stay behind to try and fight it with a hose,” he said. “However, with mudflow, there’s just nothing you can do. And you put yourself in danger.... It may sound overly cautious on our part, but we just want to make sure everyone’s safe.”
Crews have been working around the clock since Wednesday filling sandbags and distributing them to residents.
In Glendora, the vulnerable area is a roughly three-mile stretch from the city's western border to Loraine Avenue, encompassing about 1,000 homes.
Workers have also been erecting concrete barriers known as K-rails to direct the flow of any mud and debris that comes down from the Colby fire burn area. In January, the wildfire burned 1,900 acres and destroyed five homes and damaged seven others.
Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers said city officials and residents are learning from the past. In 1969, after fires the year before, massive mudslides destroyed 200 homes; 34 people died.
"We're aware of the risk now," he said. "In 1969, no one gave it much thought."
Jeffers said the risk is even greater now because there are 70% to 80% more structures in the danger zone than in 1969 and 90% of the hillside vegetation was burned.
If mandatory evacuations are ordered, he urged residents to follow directions.
"When the Colby fire literally came through Glendora, we didn't have any deaths or serious injuries. The last thing we want is for mudflows to tarnish that record," Jeffers said.
A fast-moving storm on Thursday dumped light to moderate rain across Los Angeles County, leaving the L.A. region with an extended break in the afternoon before a more powerful system arrives later in the night.
Since rain began falling Wednesday evening, about 1 to 2 inches have dropped on the region's coasts and valleys, with most of L.A. County getting no more than 1 inch, said Andrew Rorke, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.
The stronger of two storms is expected to bring the potential for heavy rain through Saturday, with 1 to 3 inches of rain in the coasts and valleys and 3 to 6 inches of rain in the foothills and mountains. Forecasters say thunderstorms are also possible, with damaging winds, small hail and even weak tornadoes possible.