California blaze loses force as winds die down
GLENDORA, Calif. – Santa Ana winds that fanned a campfire into a wildfire that destroyed five homes and threatened foothill neighborhoods east of Los Angeles relented Thursday afternoon, halting the blaze in its tracks.
The fire swept through 1,700 acres of brush in the San Gabriel Mountains early in the day and drove some 3,700 people to evacuate, but by nightfall it was no longer advancing and was 30 percent contained.
“The weather cooperated quite a bit today. We didn’t get the wind … that we thought,” Los Angeles County fire Deputy Chief John Tripp said.
The contained sections of the fire were those closest to populated areas, allowing residents to return to neighborhoods in Glendora Thursday night, though fire engines would remain.
Parts of neighboring Azusa remained under evacuation orders.
The National Weather Service said a red-flag warning of extreme fire danger would remain in effect into this evening because of low humidity and the chance of winds gusting to 30 mph in the foothills and canyons.
The wildfire, which erupted early Thursday, damaged 17 homes, garages, barns and other buildings, Tripp said.
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.
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 Angeles National Forest, just north of Glendora.
Glendora Chief Tim Staab said the men were trying to keep warm, and the wildfire appears to have been an accident.
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