GLENDALE — Authorities have determined that the Station fire, which caused the death of two firefighters and sent hundreds of residents and animals seeking shelter, was caused by arson.
An official at the Interagency Command Center confirmed that an arson investigation had been opened, but referred all other inquires to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Steve Whitmore, who could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.
The determination likely meant that the death of two county firefighters Sunday, whose vehicle overturned on steep roadway in the Angeles National Forest within the fire zone, would be considered a homicide.
Arson investigators have been examining forensic evidence from the point of origin off Angeles Crest (2) Highway north of La Cañada Flintridge.
As of Thursday evening, the Station fire was 38% contained after consuming roughly 147,000 acres, making it the largest in county history. It continued its southeasterly march across the San Gabriel Mountains.
After three days of cancellations because of poor air quality caused by the fire, Glendale Unified School District also welcomed students for the first day of school Thursday.
All mandatory residential evacuations in the north Glendale, La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge areas were lifted Wednesday, with only Deukmejian remaining closed to the public. Dunsmore, New York and Montrose parks, which were closed earlier in the week, reopened on Thursday.
And while Mt. Wilson, which is home to an array of important communications towers and historic observatory, was not yet completely out of the clear, officials said early Thursday that the situation had improved significantly.
With hiking trails and hillsides left scorched by the fire, Glendale city officials said the hillsides of Deukmejian Wilderness Park would remain closed indefinitely as officials work to ensure safe conditions for park visitors.
The lower picnic area of the park could open soon, but the majority of the park will remain closed until the Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department receives authorization from the Fire Department that it is safe for reopening, said Brittney Bilotti, recreation and community services administrator.
“It could be up to a month or longer before they give us clearance for a full opening,” she said. “They just really have to take it on a day to basis.”
The fire caused unsafe conditions, including the potential for landslides and falling rocks, which city officials are working to remedy, Bilotti said.
Glendale Fire Prevention Coordinator Doug Nickels said several city departments will work together to address the hazardous conditions and other issues caused by the fire.
“We’re going to have a whole team of people put together to address a whole range of issues,” he said.