San Gabriel Valley Muslims to pray for rain amid drought, Colby fire

The Colby fire burning near Glendora is 78% contained, officials said Sunday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

With no help in sight from the weatherman, Muslim residents of the San Gabriel Valley will turn to a higher power Sunday afternoon during prayer services.

The special prayers for rain, called Salatul Istisqa, will follow the early afternoon prayer, which begins at 1:15 p.m. at the Islamic Center of San Gabriel Valley, 19164 E. Walnut Dr. in Rowland Heights.

People of all faiths are invited, according to the Greater Los Angeles chapter of the Council on American-Islamic relations.


The special prayers -- prompted by the Colby fire, which broke out Thursday and has consumed more than 1,900 acres -- are aimed at relieving “the ongoing drought impacting California residents and agriculture,” the group said in a news release.

“Islam’s Prophet Muhammad offered similar prayers during times of drought,” the release said, reciting some of the traditional supplications, including: “Oh God, give us a saving rain, good and productive, general and heavy, now and not later, beneficial and not harmful.”

Forecasters have been predicting little relief as California braces for what could be an unprecedented winter fire season fueled by record dry conditions.

On Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency and urged residents to cut water use by 20%. Downtown Los Angeles had its driest year on record in 2013.

The National Weather Service last week released a forecast for the southwestern United States calling for unseasonably dry and hot conditions.

William Patzert, a climatologist with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, said California’s historically wet months of February, March and April look to be bone-dry, heightening the fire danger.

“It’s just explosive,” he said. “The grasses are just, they go up like a match. … Everything is good to go.”

Across California, vegetation that typically rehydrates with rain between December and April is getting drier and more dangerous. The fires so far this winter have been relatively moderate, but officials worry that the blazes will worsen as the fuel gets even drier.

Officials said Sunday that the Colby fire, which destroyed 16 structures including five homes, was 78% contained.


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