SAN DIMAS — Officials suspected arson Thursday after firefighters quickly doused a small but suspicious brush fire in the San Dimas Canyon Thursday afternoon, for the fourth time this week, authorities said.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies first reported spotting the fire at 3:47 p.m. along San Dimas Canyon Road, near Golden Hills Road, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Sims said.
Firefighters had extinguished the flames at 6:02 p.m., before they consumed more than a 50-foot by 50-foot portion of brush at the base of the canyon.
The cause was under investigation, however Sgt. Louie Serrano of the sheriff’s San Dimas Station said investigated suspected Thursday’s fire was “most likely arson.”
Deputies, who first reported the fire after spotting it while performing extra patrols in the area due to the recent fires, saw several vehicles leaving the area but could not determine if any of them had been involved in the fire.
“We’re not detaining anybody. We don’t have anybody that saw anybody light this,” Serrano said.
Thursday’s fire was the fourth time since Sunday that firefighters have responded to brush fires in the same area.
Another fire reported shortly after 5 p.m. Wednesday nearby along Horsethief Canyon Road was ruled arson, Serrano said.
Wednesday’s fire scorched about half an acre of brush before being extinguished, authorities said.
Two other fires broke out Sunday afternoon, officials said. An update on the cause of those fires was not available late Thursday.
None of the fires have resulted in property damage, officials said.
SAN DIMAS — Firefighters made quick work of a spot fire along San Dimas Canyon Road near San Dimas Sunday afternoon, hours before a second blaze ignited in the same area, officials said.
The initial grass fire was reported at 3:27 p.m. along San Dimas Canyon Road, north of Golden Hills Drive, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Sims said.
Los Angeles County firefighters, aided by La Verne firefighters, extinguished the flames in just over 15 minutes, Sims said.
Firefighters returned to the area about 5:30 p.m. after smoke was again spotted emanating from the same area, Sims said.
It was not immediately clear if the second fire was a separate incident, or a flare-up related to the earlier blaze, Sims said.
Water-dropping helicopters were quickly brought to bear on the fire as it remained less than an acre in size, officials said.
No structures were threatened by the flames, Sims said. The fire had initially been burning uphill through brush, but appeared to be, “backing down on itself.”
Some of the assisting firefighters were cancelled as their counterparts were getting the upper hand on the second blaze, which was declared “under control” about 6:15 p.m.
An arson investigator was summoned to the scene to look into the cause of the fires, she said.
GLENDALE — Firefighters responded from both ground an air after a brush fire ignited in the hills above Brand Library Park in Glendale and grew to 50-acres in size, officials said.
The fire was reported just before 12:30 p.m., according to a dispatcher at the Verdugo Fire Communications Center.
A third-alarm was called as firefighters from various area agencies, with the aid of fire-fighting aircraft, attacked the flames.
By 3 p.m., the fire had grown to 50 acres in size, according to Glendale city spokesman Dan Bell.
No evacuations were ordered or expected, however firefighters were taking positions to protect structures, officials said.
No home’s were considered “directly threatened” by the fire, however Glendale Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Propst said homes along Allen Avenue and Thurber Place were potentially in the path of the fire’s travel.
Two hikers called for help to report they were stranded by the fire, Glendale Fire Department Battalion Chief Thomas Propst said. Firefighters ended up finding and rescuing a total of five hikers in two separate groups from the area and assessed them for possible dehydration, Bell said. No additional hikers were believed stranded in the area.
About 100 firefighters on the ground and five airships continued fighting the flames Sunday afternoon.
- Brian Day and Brenda Gazzar
A dugout alongside the baseball diamond at La Serna High School was destroyed early Thursday in a suspected arson fire, police said.
Firefighters first responded to the fire at the campus, 15301 Youngwood Drive, about 5:30 a.m., Whittier police officials said in a written statement.
“We’re suspecting it’s an arson,” Whittier police Sgt. Jim Uhl said.
The dugout also included a locker room and a coaches office, he said.
Officials estimate that the fire caused $50,000 worth of damage.
When school officials arrived at the campus about 7 a.m. and encountered the damage, as well as firefighters, they notified Whittier police, officials said. They became suspicious, as it was the second fire reported at the school this week.
“Apparently, some trash cans were set on fire near the tennis courts Monday night June 9th, however the Whittier Police were not called and no structures were involved,” according to the police statement.
“This morning La Serna High School staff felt that the fires on Monday night and the fires this morning were not isolated events and asked for the Whittier Police Department’s involvement.”
No information regarding a suspect or motive was available, and no further details were released.
Detectives spent about six hours at the scene collecting evidence and searching for clues, officials said. Whittier police detectives are working in conjunction with investigators from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
“Other than the fires occurring on this specific campus, there appears to be no specific threats to staff or students and no other fires have been reported to the Whittier Police Department by area schools over the last few months,” according to the police statement.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Detective Dineen at the Whittier Police Department, which can be reached at 562-567-9241.
PHOTO by Leo Jarzomb
SANTA FE SPRINGS >> A massive and stubborn fire erupted at a Santa Fe Springs recycling center Thursday afternoon and burned through the night, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 6:20 p.m. at a recycling center in the 14000 block of Marquardt Avenue, Los Angeles County Fire Department Dispatch Supervisor Cheryl Sims said.
“We received a report of a large outdoor yard fire, with a structure involved,” Sims said.
The business recycles paper and cardboard goods, said Downey Fire Department Capt. Eric Danieri.
Firefighters from throughout the area rushed to assist as the intense five-alarm fire tore its way through the facility, fueled by bales of cardboard, according to Battalion Chief Bruce English of the Downey Fire Department, which handles radio communications for the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department and other nearby agencies.
The fire stubborn fire continued burning beyond midnight and into Friday morning, officials said.
“We increased out personnel due to fire activity and poor access to the cardboard box bales,” English said.
The cardboard bales burned with increasing intensity as they broke apart, presenting more surface area to catch fire.
“It’s very manpower intensive,” English said of the firefighters’ efforts.
Shortly after midnight, firefighters were using a skip loader to remove burning debris, officials said. A tanker truck was summoned to the scene to refuel the fire engines.
More than 100 firefighters from the Santa Fe Springs, Los Angeles County, Downey, Montebello, La Habra Heights, Vernon and Compton fire departments worked to drown the flames.
No injuries were initially reported to civilians or firefighters, English said.
Southern California Edison officials were summoned to the scene to assist with downed power lines, and firefighters requested the trains on a nearby set of tracks at Rosecrans Avenue and Marquardt Street be shut down as the fire continued to burn. Traffic was shut down on both Rosecrans Avenue and Marquardt Street.
Metrolink officials reported Line 608 to Oceanside was stopped at the Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs Station, and 91 Line 707 was stopped at the Fullerton Station, Buses were used to bring passengers to their ultimate destinations.
VIDEO and PHOTOS by Keith Durflinger
A federal jury on Thursday convicted the last of three suspects charged with starting the damaging Colby Fire above Glendora early this year, as officials cautioned that a looming storm poses a potential debris flow threat to the barren hillsides created by the wildfire.
The Los Angeles jury convicted Jonathan Carl Jarrell, a 23-year-old transient, of one felony and one misdemeanor in connection with a campfire that grew out of control on Jan. 16 and became the 1,952-acre wildfire that burned five homes and 17 other structures. One civilian and five firefighters were hurt during the fire.
Jarrell was found guilty of one felony charge of unlawfully setting timber afire, and a misdemeanor charge of illegally starting a fire, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said in a written statement. The jury deadlocked on two additional misdemeanor charges related to the fire.
“As a result of today’s guilty verdicts, Jarrell faces up to five-and-a-half years in federal prison when he is sentenced by United States District Judge George H. Wu on July 31,” Mrozek said.
The final conviction in the three-defendant case came just as Glendora city officials issued a “Yellow Alert” to urge residents to be prepared of the possibility of mud or debris flows in the hillsides denuded by the Colby Fire.
The thunderstorm was expected to hit Palmdale hardest, however officials issued the Yellow Alert, “due to the unpredictability of thunderstorms and the possibility it may go over the Colby Impact Area,” Glendora police officials said in a written statement.
Two friend’s of Jarrell’s were tried separately and each convicted by a federal jury May 16 of one felony count of unlawfully setting timber afire and three other misdemeanor charges related to illegally starting a campfire.
Clifford Eugene Henry, 22, of Glendora and transient Steven Robert Aguirre, 21, each face up to six-and-a-half years in federal prison when they return to court for sentencing Aug. 4, officials said.
“Henry, Aguirre and Jarrell were detained by Glendora police officers after they were seen escaping the fire,” Mrozek said. “During interviews with Glendora Police and personnel with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Arson Investigations Unit — interviews that the jury heard during the two trials — all three defendants admitted playing a role in the starting of a campfire that started the Colby Fire after wind blew burning paper into the brush in the hills above Glendora.”
The investigation was carried out by the Glendora Police Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
PHOTO of Jonathan Jarrell: courtesy
GORMAN >> A brush fire ignited and grew to more than seven acres Saturday along the 5 Freeway just west of Castaic Lake before firefighters surrounded the flames, authorities said.
The fire was first reported about 10:30 a.m. along the freeway near Templin Highway, Los Angeles County Fire Department officials said.
The brush fire grew to five acres within an hour and was burning uphill toward the east, officials said. Firefighters aggressively attacked the flames from both ground and air.
The blaze had grown beyond seven acres by noon, when fire officials announced it had been contained and was no longer actively burning.
A Red Flag Warning signifying increased fire danger in Los Angeles County due to high temperatures and low humidity levels was lifted Friday night, as temperatures began dipping in the Southland after three days of scorching heat.
MONTEREY PARK — Firefighters made quick work of a small brush fire in Monterey Park Friday afternoon, extinguishing the flames before the fire grew larger than a quarter-acre, officials said.
The fire was first reported at 5:17 p.m. in a brush area along the 1400 block Monterey Pass Road, Verdugo Fire Communications Center Dispatch Supervisor Lynda Sims said.
Firefighters declared the fire “knocked down” at 5:34 p.m., she added, and began mop-up operations.
The fire came during the third day of a Red Flag Warning in Los Angeles County due to increased fire risk presented by high temperatures and low humidity levels.
SAN GABRIEL >> A massive, three-alarm fire destroyed three business Thursday night and injured two firefighters, authorities said.
The fire caused an estimated $2 million worth of damage, San Gabriel Fire Department Division Chief Bryan Frieders. The damage to the building was estimated at $1.5 million, and the damage to the contents was valued at $500,000.
The heat and intensity of the flames forced firefighters to take a defensive stance around the blaze, dousing it with water from the perimeter, Frieders said.
“The fire was burning so hot, it wasn’t worth risking lives,” he said.
At one point during the lengthy fire, the roof of the building collapsed, Frieders said. Fortunately, no firefighters were on top of it.
Division Chief Derrick Doehler said investigators don’t believe the fire was arson, but the cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.
The fire broke out at 7:22 p.m. either behind or inside a cell phone store in the 200 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard, he said.
The wireless store was in a building that also had a gift shop-bookstore and a third business.
In addition to the building, one car parked nearby was destroyed and at least one other was damaged, Frieders said.
Doehler said two firefighters sustained moderate injuries while fighting the flames but didn’t say what kind of injuries. Both firefighters were treated at a hospital and released, he added.
“One came back on duty at his request. One went home,” Doehler said.
No other injuries were reported, authorities said.
About 80 fire personnel fought the fire which was knocked down a little more than three hours after it ignited.
Fire departments from Pasadena, Los Angeles County, Alhambra, Monterey Park, San Marino, Arcadia and Glendale assisted San Gabriel Fire Department with the incident.
On Friday morning, Doehler said city employees were at the scene clearing the street.
- By Brian Day and Ruby Gonzales
PHOTO – Courtesy
As the fires grew in size and began consuming homes Wednesday afternoon, fire departments throughout the region and the state began mobilizing “strike teams” of firefighters to send south to San Diego County.
“We’re assembling a team to help,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott said. It was not immediately clear how many firefighters would head south, however he said likely at least one strike team of five engines and a battalion chief would be sent to aid their counterparts in San Diego County. No Los Angeles Fire Department aircraft had been sent to San Diego County Wednesday afternoon, Scott said. “They haven’t been requested.”
U.S. Forest Service officials announced 42 engines, two hand crews, two helitankers and one additional firefighting aircraft were sent to help in SSan Diego County, totalling about 265 firefighters.
The Verdugo Unified Command — a coalition of a dozen partnered Los Angeles County fire-fighting agencies including Pasadena, Monrovia, Montebello, Burbank, and Glendale — also began readying a strike team to help battle the San Diego County wildfires, Verdugo Communications Center Dispatch Supervisor Christina Kazazian-Wilson said. A total of five engines, one battalion chief and one battalion chief trainee were en route Wednesday afternoon.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department was just beginning to organize a strike team to send to San Diego County Wednesday afternoon, according to fire department radio traffic.
“We are sending resources to aid with San Diego County wildfire,” LACFD officials confirmed via Twitter. Two Los Angeles County Fire Department hand crews were sent to help, along with a five-engine strike team.
Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters already had their hands full watching out for fires locally, Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Scott Miller said, as Los Angeles County remained under a red Flag Warning due to an increased fire danger presented by high temperatures, low humidity levels and high winds. The warning was expected to remain in effect through Thursday night.
“Right now, we’re focused on protecting the County of Los Angeles,” Miller said.
San Bernardino County Fire Department officials also confirmed that a five-engine strike team was en route to San Diego County to help.