Suspect in Colby Fire released to residential treatment facility

A federal judge Wednesday granted a request by one of three men accused of igniting the Colby Fire in the foothills above Glendora and Azusa was earlier this month to be housed in a residential treatment facility pending trial, officials said.
Transient Jonathan Jarrell, 23, was released from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles to a residential treatment facility on a $10,000 bond, U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Thom Mrozek said. He is under electronic monitoring.
His attorney had previously made a request that Jarrell be housed in such a situation, which deals with defendants with mental health or substance abuse issues. A magistrate judge previously ordered Jarrell held indefinitely, along with his two co-defendants, but said he could seek another hearing to be removed if facility space could be found.
Clifford Henry Jr., 22, of Glendora, and 21-year-old transient Steven Aguirre remained in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.
All three have been charged with unlawfully setting timber afire, with more possible charges pending, and were scheduled to appear for preliminary hearings Feb. 5.
The trio was allegedly camping overnight near the Colby Trail north of Glendora when an early-morning campfire grew out of control, ultimately scorching 1,952 acres, according to Glendora police and U.S. Forest Service officials. Six people suffered minor injuries, five homes were destroyed, 10 outbuildings were destroyed, and eight structures were damaged during the fire, which remained 98 percent contained Wednesday. Thousands of residents were forced to evacuate.
If convicted as charged, Jarrell, Henry and Aguirre, each face up to five years in federal prison.

Elderly longtime Glendora man dies following bicycle crash

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An elderly longtime Glendora man struck by a car while riding his bike Monday has died from his injuries, officials confirmed Friday.
Francisco Alvarez, 78, died Wednesday afternoon at a hospital following Monday’s collision at Foothill Boulevard and Elwood Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said. He was initially described by police as 79 years old.
Alvarez was a poet, an avid bicyclist and devoted father and grandfather and who was always joking, said his son, Andrew Alvarez of Rancho Cucamonga.
“He was a great man. He’ll definitely be missed,” the son said.
Alvarez was riding his bicycle about 2:30 p.m. when he was struck and fatally injured by a sedan being driven by an 86-year-old Glendora man, Glendora police officials said.
Alvarez was heading west on Foothill Boulevard and the sedan was heading east just prior to the impact, Glendora police Lt. Matt Williams said. The car then made a left turn when it collided with the bicyclist.
Police officers found the Alvarez had no pule and was not breathing when they arrived on scene, but managed to resuscitate the man before he was rushed to a hospital, where he clung to life for two days, officials said.
The cause of the collision remained under investigation, authorities said, however the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, and nothing criminal was initially suspected.
Francisco Alvarez was born in Spain, where he worked as a teacher, wrote poetry and considered becoming a monk.
“For obvious reasons, I’m glad he didn’t go through with,” his son said.
But while in his 30s, Alvarez decided to move to North America, first settling in Canada before hitchhiking across the continent, from Alaska to Mexico City.
He met his wife in Montreal, Canada, and the couple had two children, Andrew Alvarez said. The family moved to Glendora in 1980, where Francisco Alvarez and his wife have lived ever since.
Francisco Alvarez worked as a credit manager for Allfast Fastening Systems Inc. in Industry until he retired in 2003, his son said.
He often rode his bike to work, the son added. And in retirement, he took a 10-mile bike ride every day, then walked his dog two miles each evening. He was also a faithful Catholic who rode his bike to Mass every Sunday.
“He was extremely healthy,” Andrew Alvarez said.
“He valued education. He pushed us very hard for that,” Andre Alvarez said. “He was very grateful that after bing born in poverty in Spain, to see where he had come.”
Francisco Alvarez is survived by his wife, Catherine Alvarez: sisters Lupe and Carmen Alvarez, who are nuns in Spain; his children, Andrew and Carmen Alvarez; daughter-in-law Jennifer Alvarez, and grandchildren Anya, 11, and Daniel, 9.
Francisco Alvarez was very close with his grandchildren, his son said.
Anya said she enjoyed walking the dog with her grandfather as he sung songs in Spanish. She also said she remembered his jokes.
Daniel recalled that his grandfather encouraging him to eat his broccoli.
Francisco Alvarez had a passion for poetry, his son said. He stopped writing around the time he had a family, but renewed is artistic efforts in 1997, when he was introduced to the Internet. He was compelled to start a website featuring Spanish-language poetry, and has since published 3,600 sonnets and other poems, compiled into 31 volumes.
“He was very popular in Latin America and Spain,” Andrew Alvarez said, adding that some of his fathers sonnets had been performed on-stage in his native country.
Francisco Alvarez visited Spain once a year, his son said, and was looking forward to attending a live performance of one of his sonnets in May.
A Rosary will be held from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at Oakdale Memorial Park, 1401 S. Grand Avenue in Glendora, Andrew Alvarez said. A Mass is to follow at 10 a.m. Wednesday at St. Dorothy Catholic Church, 241 S. Valley Center Ave.

PHOTO of Francisco Alvarez riding his bicycle in France courtesy of the Alvarez family.

Elderly Glendora man struck by car while riding bicycle dies from injuries

GLENDORA — An elderly Glendora man struck by a car while riding his bike Monday has died from his injuries, officials confirmed Friday.
Francisco Alvarez, 78, died Wednesday afternoon at a hospital following Monday’s collision at Foothill Boulevard and Elwood Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Joe Bale said. He was initially described by police as 79 years old.
Alvarez was riding his bicycle about 2:30 p.m. when he was struck and fatally injured by a sedan being driven by an 86-year-old Glendora man, Glendora police officials said.
Alvarez was heading west on Foothill Boulevard and the sedan was heading east just prior to the impact, Glendora police Lt. Matt Williams said. The car then made a left turn when it collided with the bicyclist.
Police officers found the Alvarez had no pule and was not breathing when they arrived on scene, but managed to resuscitate the man before he was rushed to a hospital, where he clung to life for two days, officials said.
The cause of the collision remained under investigation, authorities said, however the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, and nothing criminal was initially suspected.

Colby Fire 78% contained; damage assessment revised

Firefighters have built containment lines around 78 percent of the 4-day-old Colby Fire burning in the foothills above Azusa and Glendora, authorities announced Sunday.
Officials also updated the damage toll. One home that was previously listed as damaged was reclassified as destroyed, according to U.S. Forest Service officials. The fire has destroyed six homes and 10 outbuildings, as well as damaged five other homes and one additional outbuilding.
Four people — two firefighters and two civilians — have been injured in the fire since it first broke out about 6 a.m. Thursday near the Colby Trail just north of Glendora.
The wildfire did not grow overnight, remaining at just over 1,900 acres in size, officials said.
And although the thick smoke that blanketed the region Thursday is gone, firefighters remained hard at work in the steep hillsides toward their goal of 100 percent containment by Wednesday morning, Angeles National Forest spokeswoman L’Tanga Watson said.
“We’re trying to build two miles of line around it today,” she said.
Additionally, firefighters continued “cleaning out the interior of the fire,” Watson said, burning off unburned vegetation within the fire perimeter in a controlled manner.
Forty-five firefighter hand crews, 100 fire engines, three helicopters, eight fixed-wing aircraft, and five bulldozers remained assigned to the fire Sunday, officials said.

Colby Fire continues to smolder; Mountain Cove evacuations to be lifted

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Firefighters continued strengthening containment lines around the 1,906-acre Colby Fire smoldering in the foothills at the northern edge of the San Gabriel Valley Saturday as the last remaining evacuees from Azusa received word they could return home.
The wildfire was 61 percent contained Saturday, leaving firefighters with eight miles of containment lines yet to complete, Angeles National Forest officials said.
Residents of the Mountain Cove neighborhood of Azusa — the only neighborhood still under evacuation orders Saturday — were advised they could return to their homes at 6 p.m. And officials announced the fire was expected to be fully contained by Wednesday.
“Today’s fire operations will be primarily focused on reinforcing containment lines along the fire’s northern perimeter and cooling hot spots,” ANF spokeswoman Jamie Uyehara said.
“There were some flare-ups last night,” Uyehara said. Firefighters also lit controlled burns overnight to clear excess fuel from the path of fire.
Firefighters made “excellent progress” overnight, “taking advantage of the lower temperatures and favorable wind conditions to successfully perform firing operations and reinforce containment lines where possible while working in steep rocky terrain,” U.S. Forest Service officials said in a written statement.
“The fire growth potential is medium,” the forest service statement said. “Fuels remain extremely dry and humidity anticipated in the single digits. Winds are expected to be lower than yesterday at 10 to 15 mph.”
Firefighters worked Saturday in temperatures around 87 degrees.
More than 1,100 personnel continued working the fire Saturday, including 45 hand crews, 104 fire engines and four bulldozers, officials added.
Three water-dropping helicopters and four air tankers were also on-hand should they be needed, though they were also available to be called upon to fight fires elsewhere, Uyehara said.
In addition to fire fighting aircraft, the skies above the fire were occupied with helicopters being operated by Southern California Edison to replace power poles damaged by the fire, Uyehara said.
“The incident team was able to save some of the other poles,” she added.
Despite damage to the electrical infrastructure, only 33 SCE customers were without power in Azusa and Glendora Saturday, according to the utility. All power was expected to be restored by Saturday afternoon.
The fire destroyed five homes in Glendora and damaged 17 other structures since it ignited just before 6 a.m. Thursday near the Colby Trail. Three young men have been arrested on suspicion of starting the fire with a campfire that got out of control and are being held in lieu of $500,000 bail each pending their initial appearances in federal court.

Firefighters light backfires to protect power poles during the Colby Fire early Saturday, Jan. 18, 2013. (Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)

Glendora residents band together in face of flames

GLENDORA — Residents living at the base of the Colby Trail in Glendora near the origin of the Colby Fire breathed easier once the smoke thinned late Thursday as they recalled tense moments hours earlier when the flames were within stone’s throw of their homes.
Residents throughout the neighborhood immediately began wetting the roofs of their houses with garden hoses as they found flames bearing down on their homes from nearby hillsides, and other grabbed shovels and raced up the trail to do what they could do extinguish the flames with dirt, residents said.
“There was at least 20 guys who grabbed shovels and ran up there,” neighbor Brian Wilmmer, 39, said. “It was actually really neat to see.”
The fire burned within 100 yards of the home of Roger Ellenson, 61.
He said he was already at work when friends, some of them watching the news from other countries, began calling him to tell him about the fire in his neighborhood.
Ellenson rushed home to find flames creeping over a hillside that overlooked his house.
Palm trees occasionally caught fire as hot embers carried by the wind landed on them at the outset of the fire.
“We were all out here wetting out roofs, just to be safe,” Ellenson said.
Wilmmer and Ellenson both elected to remain at their homes despite mandatory evacuation orders, but said they’d stocked their vehicles with irreplaceable items such as family photos in case they had to flee in a hurry.
The neighbors said the Colby Trail is a popular hiking spot, where young people sometimes seek out as a secluded place to hang out to drink alcohol or smoke marijuana.
“Occasionally, you see kids up there. I’m sure they’re drinking, smoking,” Wilmmer said.
Sometimes hikers access the area via the Colby Trail, while others head down from Glendora Mountain Road.
There are seldom problems, Ellenson added. “It’s mostly kids going up there to smoke dope.”
Marijuana was found inside the backpack of one of the three young men accused of accidentally sparking the wildfire with a campfire that got out of control.

Glendora man accused of DUI after crash damages home

 

GLENDORA — A man is accused of drunken driving after crashing a pickup truck and damaging the front of a Glendora home, authorities said.
The crash took place just before 2 a.m. in the 200 block of West Bennett Avenue, Glendora police Lt. Matt Williams said.
Daniel Barron, 32, was allegedly drunk when he crashed his pickup truck through the fence of a home, damaging brick work and toppling a tree over onto the residence, the lieutenant said.
The home’s porch and exterior were damage, and a window was smashed, according to police and video footage of the aftermath posted by the homeowner on YouTube.com.
“Some nice but over served gentlemen decided to redo the front of our home,” read a caption the accompanied the video.
Barron’s passenger, a 27-year-old Fontana man, was also arrested on suspicion of being drunk in public, Williams said.
Both men were released later in the day with court dates, records show.
No injuries were reported.

Home destroyed, lizards killed in Glendora fire

GLENDORA — A family’s home was destroyed, two pet lizards died and cat was missing following a mobile home fire Saturday in Glendora.
A woman and her 8-year-old daughter who were inside the mobile home in the 21200 block of East Arrow Highway when it caught fire just after 3:30 p.m. fire escaped unharmed, Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Michael Bernal said. A man and 2-year-old girl who live there were not home at the time.
The fire was first discovered when the 8-year-old girl alerted her mother that she smelled smoke, the captain said.
The mother went to investigate, he said. “She found smoke, and fire going up the wall.”
Firefighters found the mobile home engulfed in flames when they arrived, officials said. They doused the fire in just under 20 minutes, however the home was deemed a total loss.
Two pet lizards that were inside the mobile home died in the fire, Bernal said. The family’s pet cat was missing.
Firefighters determined the cause of the fire was an electrical malfunction, he said.
Officials estimated the fire caused $120,000 worth of damage to the mobile home and its contents.
The manager of the mobile home park where the fire broke out, Royal Palms, offered to place the family in a vacant unit for the night as they made plans to move forward, Bernal added.

El Monte man and woman suspected in $2,300 theft from Glendora Kohl’s

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GLENDORA — Police arrested a man and woman Wednesday on suspicion of stealing about $2,300 in goods from a Glendora Kohl’s store, and also linked them to other alleged thefts from Kohl’s locations in Arcadia and Alhambra, authorities said.
Marcus Steven Hernandez, 23, of El Monte and Elsa Judith Haro, 21, of El Monte, were booked on suspicion of commercial burglary following Wednesday’s incident, which was first reported about 1:50 a.m. at Kohl’s, 1225 S. Lone Hill Avenue, according to Glendora police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
A store representative called police to report the theft, and that the suspects left in a vehicle with part of the license plate concealed by duct tape, Glendora police Lt. Joe Ward said.
A volunteer officer spotted the vehicle, and police soon caught with the suspect’s car on the westbound 210 Freeway, Ward said. Police pulled the car over at Factor Avenue and Glen Lyn Drive in Azusa and arrested Hernandez and Haro without incident.
They were found with about 25 pairs of jeans that had been stolen from the Glendora Kohl’s, as well as various electronic items, Ward said. Some of the stolen merchandise was found to have been taken previously in thefts at other Kohl’s locations in Arcadia and Alhambra.
According to county booking records and police, Hernandez was being held in lieu of $60,000 bail pending his arraignment Friday in West Covina Superior Court. In addition to the alleged burglary, he was also being held in connection with an outstanding warrant for being under the influence of drugs.
Haro was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending her initial court appearance Friday, records show.

PHOTO courtesy of Glenn Purbaugh

Man and wife arrested after accidental shooting inside Glendora Sam’s Club store

GLENDORA — Police arrested a husband and wife Sunday after a gun they had went off accidentally inside a Sam’s Club store, wounding the man in the forearm, officials said.
Robert Duncan, 48, and Helen Duncan were booked on suspicion of negligently discharging a firearm, Glendora police Sgt. Michael Henderson said. There city of residence was not immediately available.
The incident took place shortly before 1:30 p.m. just inside the entrance of the store, 1501 S. Lone Hill Ave., he said.
The man and woman were passing a bag between them which contained the gun, Henderson said. They dropped the bag, causing the gun inside to fire.
Henderson said Robert Duncan was struck in the forearm by the bullet. No one else was injured.
Officers found the man and women at San Dimas Community Hospital. He was treated for his injury and released from the hospital the same day.
In addition to negligently discharging a gun, the husband was also expected to face a charge of illegal weapon possession, Henderson said.