Embers from the fire fanned by gusty
The three suspects, all men in their 20s, were arrested on charges of recklessly starting the fire that spread smoke across the
One resident suffered minor burns in the neighborhood abutting
At least 2 ½ square miles of dry brush were charred in the wilderness area about 25 miles northeast of downtown
Ash rained down on the city, said Jonathan Lambert, 31, general manager of Classic Coffee.
"We're underneath a giant cloud of smoke," he said. "It's throwing quite the eerie shadow over a lot of
Police said the three suspects were detained near Colby Trail, where the fire was believed to have started. At least one was homeless, Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab said. Police identified the suspects as Robert Aguirre, 21, of
A resident spotted "a couple of suspicious fellows moving down from the hill into the wash" and called police, Mayor Joseph A. Santoro said.
Because of the conditions the national forest was under "very high" fire danger restrictions, posted on numerous signs, which bar campfires anywhere except in camp fire rings in designated campgrounds.
U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman L'Tanga Watson said there are no designated campgrounds where the fire began.
The notorious Santa Anas, linked to the spread of
The area, which has been historically dry, has been buffeted by the winds which have raised temperatures into the 80s. The Santa Anas typically begin in the fall and last through winter into spring. A wet winter reduces fire risk, but the whole state is experiencing historically dry conditions.
TV news helicopters spotted embers igniting palm trees in residential yards as firefighters with hoses beat back flames lapping at the edges of homes. Homes are nestled in canyons and among rugged ridges that made access difficult.
everal schools were closed. The
Between 1,700 and 2,000 residents were evacuated and the order included 880 homes in
"Don't waste any more time with the water. Time to go," a firefighter ordered.
More than 700 firefighters were on the scene, along with 70 engines and a fleet of helicopters and air tankers dropping water and retardant.
A man was photographed on the roof of a home talking on a cellphone as he surveyed the smoke-choked sky.
The smoke spread across metropolitan
Jennifer Riedel, 43, anxiously watched as the orange-hued plume descended on her neighborhood in
Credit: Christian Messere
"I woke up from the rattling windows from the helicopters overhead, and I heard the police over the P.A., but I couldn't hear what they were saying," Riedel said. "I'm hearing from neighbors that we're evacuating, but I'm waiting for a knock on the door."
Riedel said her husband left for work early and she was getting her children, ages 5 and 7, ready to evacuate.
"They're a little nervous, but I'm keeping calm for them," she said. "I've been loading the car up with important papers and getting the kids dressed. We'll just take some essentials and get going if we have to."
The last catastrophic fire in the San Gabriel Mountains broke out in 2009 and burned for months. The flames blackened 250 square miles, killed two firefighters and destroyed 209 structures, including 89 homes. Vegetation above Glendora hadn't burned since a 1968 fire which was followed by disastrous flooding in 1969.
About 70 miles to the northwest, a fire has burned at least one acre of tinder-dry chaparral near Pyramid Lake, said Los Angeles County fire Inspector Tony Akins. As many as 115 firefighters battled the flames and water-dropping helicopters were diverted from the fire in Glendora.
The blaze started just after 11 a.m. east of Interstate 5 and involved a mobile home, which didn't appear occupied, Akins said. The cause was under investigation.
California is in a historically dry era and winter has brought no relief.
Red flag warnings for critical fire weather conditions were extended until 6 p.m. Friday for much of the region from Los Angeles County south to the U.S.-Mexico border. The length of Sierra Nevada also remained under warnings.
Fires that struck windy areas of the state earlier in the week were quickly quashed by large deployments of firefighters, aircraft and other equipment before the flames could be stoked by gusts into major conflagrations.
Large parts of Southern California below mountain passes, canyons and foothills have been buffeted all week by the region's notorious Santa Ana winds.
Spawned by surface high pressure over the interior of the West, the Santa Anas form as the cold air flows toward Southern California, then speeds up and warms as it descends in a rush toward the coast. Some of the most extreme gusts reported by the National Weather Service topped 70 mph.
These offshore winds also raise temperatures to summerlike levels. Many areas have enjoyed temperatures well into the 80s.
California is also under the influence of a persistent upper-level ridge of high pressure anchored off its north coast that has also kept the region generally warm, dry and clear.