By City News Service
Firefighters set backfires in the steep mountains north of Azusa and Glendora today, but despite diminishing Santa Ana winds, the expected containment time for the Colby Fire was pushed back from Sunday to Wednesday.
A high temperature of 87 degrees and very low humidity was expected today, but wind gusts were not expected to top 15 miles per hour, weather forecasters said. Red Flag Warnings were to expire at 6 p.m. tonight.
The fire was about 30 percent contained today, and full containment was expected by Wednesday, said Nathan Judy of the U.S. Forest Service.
"Everything is fluid," he said. "We have to get boots all the way around this fire to call this thing completely out."
Judy said firefighters are dealing with steep, sometimes inaccessible terrain.
"We want to make sure everyone is safe before they go in there," he said.
The fire's toll stood at five homes destroyed, 17 damaged and 1,863
acres of San Gabriel Mountains burned, authorities said.
The fire was allegedly set by a trio of young men tossing papers into a campfire at 5:50 a.m. Thursday near Glendora Mountain Road. But it had not grown in size since Thursday.
Heavy smoke from the blaze also sparked concerns about poor air quality Friday, especially for people with existing respiratory issues, according to the Air Quality Management District officials. People in affected areas were urged to stay indoors with air conditioning.
Meanwhile, mandatory evacuation orders were lifted for almost all of the area and residents were allowed to return to their homes. But the Mountain Cove subdivision, north of Azusa, remained off limits today while firefighters continued to work in the area, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
About 1,175 personnel were on the fire lines, along with nine helicopters and two SuperScooper aircraft.
The three people injured included a woman who was hit by a burning palm frond that fell on her back. One firefighter suffered an ankle injury that did not require hospitalization, and an other was taken to a hospital for treatment of a minor burn.
Clifford Eugene Henry Jr., 22, of Glendora; Jonathan Carl Jarrell, 23, Irwindale; and Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, a transient last known to live in Los Angeles, remained jailed in lieu of $500,000 bail on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire. The men might face federal charges because the fire started on U.S. Forest Service land, but the U.S. Attorney's Office said no charges had been filed as of Friday.