Crews chase flare-ups in California fire
RAQUEL MARIA DILLON
Jan. 17, 2014
GLENDORA, California (AP) — Firefighters were chasing flare-ups Friday morning in a damaging wildfire that was largely tamed but kept thousands of people from their homes in the foothill suburbs northeast of Los Angeles.
Scattered open flames chewed through brush along hillsides above communities abutting the San Gabriel Mountains as crews doused properties in the path of the fire. Firefighters lit controlled backfires to reduce fuel.
All flare-ups happened within the containment lines of the wildfire that swept through about 2 1/2 square miles (5.2 square kilometers) of tinder-dry chaparral and destroyed five homes on Thursday, said Incident Commander Mike Wakowski at a morning news conference.
The fire, which at its height prompted the evacuation of 3,700 people, was 30 percent contained. More than 2,000 people remained evacuated Friday. Seventeen structures were damaged, including homes, garages, barns and other buildings.
Two firefighters had minor injuries and a woman trying to fight the blaze near her home suffered a minor burn, officials said.
Three men in their 20s, including a homeless man, were arrested on suspicion of recklessly starting the blaze by tossing paper into a campfire in the forest above Glendora. They could face state or federal charges.
Glendora police Chief Tim Staab said the men were trying to keep warm and the wildfire appears to have been an accident.
At least 10 renters were left homeless when the fire destroyed rental units on the historic grounds of a retreat that once was the summer estate of the Singer sewing machine family. Statues of Jesus and Mary stood unharmed near the blackened ruins. However, the main, 1920s mansion was spared.
"It's really a miracle that our chapel, our main house is safe," owner Jeania Parayno said.
Crews were turning their attention to the fire's north end, to keep flames from moving further into Angeles National Forest.
The National Weather Service said a red-flag warning of extreme fire danger in effect much of the week would remain in place until Friday evening because of low humidity and the chance of the region's notorious Santa Ana winds gusting up to 30 mph (48 kph) in the foothills and canyons.
Those conditions come with a bigger backdrop of a serious statewide water shortage. Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency, which allows the state to seek financial assistance and other help from the federal government.
Associated Press writers Christopher Weber, Robert Jablon, Sue Manning, Alex Veiga, and Tami Abdollah in Los Angeles contributed to this report.