Colby fire is 78% contained; all evacuation orders lifted

After being driven for days by dry weather and high winds, the Colby fire was 78% contained Sunday morning, officials said, as firefighters made significant gains on the blaze near Glendora and Azusa.

The last mandatory evacuation order in connection with the wildfire was lifted Saturday at 6 p.m., when the 1,000 residents of the Mountain Cove community were allowed to return home. California 39 in the area remains closed.

Steep terrain in the vicinity will be the biggest challenge moving forward, said U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman L’Tagna Watson. Firefighters are hoping to construct two miles of fire lines to keep the blaze within boundaries, which is difficult on such steep slopes, Watson said.


The fire has burned 1,906 acres since it began Thursday morning, destroying 16 structures -- five of them homes -- and damaging six others.

There are 1,375 firefighters, 100 engines, three helicopters and four bulldozers battling the blaze, Watson said.

With the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend ongoing, the Forest Service is asking campers in the area to be cautious about the fire danger level, which is still high, and to camp in designated areas, Watson said.

The temperature is expected to reach 83 degrees Sunday with 9% humidity and wind speeds at 6 mph.

Authorities say the fire began just before 6 a.m. Thursday when three men started an illegal campfire near Colby Trail and Glendora Mountain Road. The men were cold, said Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab, 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 that the men would face federal charges, expected to be filed next week.


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