San Gabriel Complex Fire strikes Azusa and Duarte
By Hugo Guzman
Managing Editor, Foothill Advocate
ANGELES NATIONAL FOREST — A fatal car accident started a blaze in Azusa, with a second fire starting hours later in the Duarte hills surrounding Fish Canyon. Collectively called the San Gabriel Complex Fire, the two brush fires burned about 5,000 acres of land. No structures were damaged. Nearly 1,500 firefighters worked to contain the flames.
Evacuation orders were issued for residents in 770 Duarte households. Similar evacuations were ordered by police in the Azusa communities of Mountain Cove, Rainbow Canyon Ranch and El Encanto. The evacuations later proved well-justified. According to Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp, the wind drove flames to the bottom slopes in the residential foothills, close to some homes in Duarte. Firefighters worked overnight to repel the fire. Containment stood at 15 percent on Wednesday morning, with firefighters concerned about the western flank of the fire (pictured on Tuesday night), which appeared to be spreading down the mountain.
Evacuated residents were housed in Red Cross centers, such as the one at 1600 Huntington Dr., in Duarte. Locals awaited further news from local television stations while firefighters battled the blaze. Although the center was fully stocked and those taking shelter could expect excellent care, most were anxious to return. The Red Cross is also prepared to take in more evacuees. Bradbury and Monrovia residents living above Royal Oaks drive were advised to prepare for possible evacuation.
According to Red Cross coordinator Alex Rose, there’s no way of telling when residents can return home, or if further evacuation orders will be ordered. Although each evacuation shelter is designed for self-sufficiency, some residents have been allowed to make short trips to their homes, to pick up spare clothing and items necessary for work. However, Rose empathizes with the desire to return home once the danger has passed.
“They don’t have here what you’d normally have at home,” Rose said. “They have each other.”
Although firefighters hope to further contain the fires as temperatures cool down over the next few days, fire danger warnings will persist for much longer. In addition, The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued smoke advisories Monday and late Wednesday morning due to the fires, according to ABC7. Officials said air quality could reach unhealthy levels in the San Gabriel Valley and surrounding regions. The 626 Golden Roads bike riding event is scheduled for this weekend, and no news has been issued regarding its current status.