UPDATED — Welcome home: All mandatory evacuation orders lifted in foothills


Authorities lifted mandatory evacuation orders in Glendora and Azusa Sunday morning on the heels of a storm that destabilized the hillsides of the Colby Fire burn area and sent mud flowing through residential streets.
The last of the evacuation orders, which affected 10 homes along Ridge View Drive in Arcadia along the denuded hillsides of the recent Colby Fire, were lifted at 11:45 a.m., Azusa police officials announced in a written statement.
“Residents may return to their residences, according to the police statement.
Only one home at the northern end of Ridge View Drive in Azusa sustained structural damage from the slides, officials said.
EVACS2Dozens of city and county workers, along with firefighters, were busy clearing mud that had poured into the backyard of Ed Heinlein and his family. The mud reached nearly 5 feet thick at some points.
“There’s 100 tons of mud back here,” Heinlein said. “We’ve got mud and stuff in the back of the house.”
To prepare for the mass of mud that eventually barrelled down on his family’s home from a steep hillside, Heinlein said he knocked a hole in a block wall on the south side of his property to allow the water to flow through. And he placed the rubble into trash cans to build a levy on the other side of his property.
“It’s engineering 101 if you’re a local homeowner,” he quipped.
And while the effort helped with the mud flow, Heinlein said he was concerned the weight of the mass of mud and debris might compromise his home’s foundation.
And despite significant damage, Heinlein said it could have been far worse. He credited a grove of 5,000 avocado trees overlooking his home for preventing further disaster.
“It stopped boulders the size of cars,” he said. “It stopped all that nasty stuff. It’s a miracle.”
And the same avocado grove, which the owner heavily watered during the Colby Fire, helped protect Heinlein’s home from damage during the January wildfire, he said.
A basketball hoop that previously stood at a regulation height of 10 feet emerged only about 5 feet from the mud Sunday morning.
Workers started the clean-up process by clearing mud 3 feet away from the periphery of the home, creating a trench. Both shovels and small earthmoving equipment were brought to bear on the mucky mess.
“This is really great,” Heinlein said of the dozens of city and county workers and officials who have helped him and his family deal with the storm damage.
“Mayor (Joe) Rocha left his church service to come down,” Heinlein said. “Council members were out here with shovels.”
Highway 39 within Azusa was also reopened Sunday morning, officials said, though travelers were urged to be cautious while using it due to possible mud or debris remaining in the roadway. The roadway remained closed leading into the Angeles National Forest.
In an act of community spirit, Max’s Mexican Cuisine in Azusa offered free dinner to evacuated residents of Ridge View Drive with proof of residence.
“City crews have been working diligently at removing the debris and mud which flowed onto Ridge View Drive,” according to the police statement. “They will continue to work aggressively at returning the neighborhood to it’s normal condition.”
Glendora officials downgraded the city’s alert status from red to yellow at 6 a.m., allowing displaced residents to return home. About 1,000 Glendora homes were under the evacuation orders.
“Rain-related parking restrictions are in effect,” Glendora police officials said in a written statement. “Residents are directed to remove vehicles, trash bins and other obstructions from the street.”
Trash service in the affected Glendora neighborhoods is to resume its usual schedule immediately, and mail service — which was stopped Friday and Saturday — will resume Monday, police and city officials said.
Authorities advised returning residents to examine their properties before entering, watch out for possible sinkholes in yards and be cautious while driving through the still-muddy and rock-strewn neighborhoods.
Residents with concerns involving mud or debris were encouraged to contact the Glendora Department of Public Works at 626-914-8246. City officials directed residents with other safety-related concerns to contact the Glendora Police Department.
Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers has asked that residents who collected the more than 50,000 sandbags distributed by the city during and prior to the storm to keep them. The bags may yet be necessary during future rains, as the barren hillsides may pose a mudslide risk for several years to come.
Evacuation orders for about 200 homes in Monrovia were lifted at 6 p.m. Saturday.
In Sierra Madre, the Mt. Wilson Trail remained off-limits for hikers as clean-up efforts continued Sunday.
“There are several areas of the trail that are dangerous due to rock slides,” city officials said in a written statement. “Authorities will be working on the trail the next few days to make it as safe as possible. Until then hikers should refrain from using the trail for everyone’s safety. The trail is officially closed until repairs can be made.”

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Mud puts lives on hold in foothills; Monrovia residents get OK to go home


Reporting that the “streets are a mess right now,” Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab said Saturday evening that the city hopes to have its emergency level alert downgraded to yellow by 6 a.m. today, which will allow residents to return to their homes, with caution.

“The last two storm cells to come through have done a pretty good job at pulling that mud down the hillsides.” Staab said.

“For those residents who have been evacuated, this is getting old. We understand that. We continue to ask or our residents’ patience,” he said. “Out No.  1 goal is to get our residents back into their homes and, unfortunately, it’s these storms that are getting in the way right now.”

The massive rainstorm continued to soak barren hillsides in Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia on Saturday as officials warned evacuated residents that the danger of mudslides and flooding remained very real, even as rays of sunshine peeked through the clouds.

“The experts tell us that thunderstorms are unpredictable, and they form really quickly,” Staab said in an afternoon news conference. “They also tell us that the hillsides are so saturated that we really don’t know at this point what event can cause the hills to suddenly break loose. And once that momentum starts, you just have to get out of the way.”

Officials lifted mandatory evacuation orders in Monrovia at 6 p.m. Saturday as the storm left the region…


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Flash Flood Warning issued as heavy rain resumes in foothill burn areas

The National Weather Service issued a Flash Flood Warning Saturday afternoon as heavy rains again began to pound the already water-saturated hillsides of recent burn areas in Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia.
The warning, which was preceded by forecasts of heavy rain and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon, was issued just before 2:30 p.m. It was expected to remain in effect through 4:15 p.m.
“At 2:15 p.m., National Weather Service doppler radar indicated a cluster of thunderstorms moving toward the burn areas,” according to a statement issued by the agency. “Rainfall rates have exceeded one half inch per half hour with these storms, which will be capable of producing additional flooding with mud and debris flows in the burn area.”
Those who remained inside the mandatory evacuation zones were advised to shelter in place rather than trying to leave their homes during the storm.

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UPDATED: Storm continues soaking unstable hillsides of Glendora, Azusa, Monrovia

A massive rainstorm continued to intermittently soak barren hillsides Glendora, Azusa and Monrovia Saturday as officials warned evacuated residents that the danger of mudslides and flooding remained very real, even as rays of sunshine peaked through the clouds.
The rain damaged to properties in Glendora on Friday afternoon and sent mud pouring into the backyards of three homes in Azusa early Saturday, authorities said. Mandatory evacuation orders for more than 1,200 area residents of the recent Colby Fire burn area remained in effect, with no estimate of when they may be lifted.
Though the storm saw a relative lull overnight, it was expected to resume dropping heavy rain on the region about 10 a.m., with showers and possible thunderstorms continuing though the afternoon, Glendora police and city officials said at a morning news conference. The storm was expected to exit the area by 9 p.m.
Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab asked evacuated residents to remain patient, and cautioned them not to underestimate the continued threat posed by the storm.
“For those residents who have been evacuated, this is getting old. We understand that. We continue to ask or our residents’ patience,” Staab said. “Out No. 1 goal is to get our residents back into their homes and, unfortunately, it’s these storms that are getting in the way right now.”
But with thunderstorms potentially on the horizon, and hillsides saturated with water and unstable, the danger remained real, the chief said.
“The experts tell us that thunderstorms are unpredictable, and they form really quickly,” he said. “They also tell us that the hillsides are so saturated that we really don’t know at this point what event can cause the hills to suddenly break loose. And once that momentum starts, you just have to get out of the way.”
The foothills near the Colby Fire burn area had received 4 inches of rain by Saturday, Glendora City Manager Chris Jeffers said.
“Rates were recorded at 1.3 inches per hour.”
Rainfall rates at or above half-an-inch per hour create serious potential for mudslide, Jeffers said.
And the NWS predicted another two inches may fall in the area by the storm’s conclusion, officials said. Even heavier rain was expected along the mountain ridge line.
The NWS issued a Flash Flood Warning for the foothill burn areas just before 2:30 p.m. Saturday as heavy rain began to fall again on the region. The warning was expected to remain in effect through 4:15 p.m.
The amount of rainfall Saturday afternoon would be crucial in determining when evacuation orders in Glendora would be lifted, Jeffers said. Those who remained in their homes were advised to stay in their homes and not attempt to leave should mud begin flowing.
And officials again cautioned residents that firefighters cannot rush into a mudslide or debris flow to effect a rescue. They must wait until the debris flow stops and drys.
The National Weather Service issued a brief tornado warning for the east San Gabriel Valley between about 3:30 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. No funnel cloud materialized, however hail as large as 1-inch fell in Walnut, officials said.
The four key debris basins near the Colby Fire were holding up well and were not expected to reach capacity during the storm, Jeffers said. When inspected at 6 a.m. Saturday, they ranged from 40 percent to 55 percent full.
Two homes in the 1100 block of Easley Canyon Road in Glendora sustained damage Friday afternoon, Los Angeles County Fire Department Assistant Chief Steve Martin said. The garage of one home was inundated with mud, while a nearby home’s backyard was flooded with mud that pressed up against the rear of the home.
City officials identified another dozen or so home where mud had flowed onto the properties, but not entered into the homes, Jeffers said. They were urged to hire geotechnical engineers to examine their properties.
Officials took note of 15 sites in the city where an estimated 200 cubic yards of mud and debris needed to be removed from roadways.
Jeffers added that the city is asking that once the storm passes, residents keep the more than 50,000 sandbags distributed during the storm in case of future potential mudslides. The denuded hillsides of the Colby Fire burn area will continue to present debris flow danger during storms for three to four years.
Residents along Rainbow Road at the northern edge of Glendora continued shoring up barriers Saturday. Some were made of metal pipes and wood, while others consisted of sandbags and tarps. Neighbors mentioned they had been contacted by city officials in February, in the wake of the Colby Fire, to discuss mitigation of potential debris flow.
Glendora residents Gary Smith used a break in the rainfall Saturday morning to take a bike ride. Looking at a barrier erected to block the flow of mud, “It looks like it did its job,” he said.
In Azusa, flowing mud along the 1700 block of Ridge View Drive, where officials expanded evacuation orders Friday, became far too close for comfort to three homes early Saturday, Azusa police Sgt. John Madaloni said. The mud flowing through the backyards reached the windowsill of one home, while it rose 2- to 3-feet high along the back of the other two.
“We don’t have any evidence that it’s actually gone into the homes, but it’s certainly accumulating outside the exterior walls,” Madaloni said.
“The damage right now is limited to cosmetic damage,” the sergeant said. Items such as fences and external stairways had been damaged, along with an avocado grove, but no structural damage had been confirmed.
Highway 39 in Azusa was shut down during a downpour Saturday afternoon due to mud flowing onto the roadway, as well as fears the K-rails placed to block slides would not hold, police said.
The evacuation zone in Monrovia, comprised of about 200 homes in the northern end of town, has sustained no reported structure damage, Monrovia police Lt. Zeke Cerecerez said.
Los Angeles County Department of Public Works Crews made quick work overnight of a mudslide the flowed onto Highland Place, just north of Hillcrest Boulevard, he said.
Officials tentatively planned to lift mandatory evacuation orders in Monrovia at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“We appreciate our residents’ patience at this time,” Monrovia Fire Department Chief Chris Donovan said in a written statement. “We are still predicting some mud and debris flows from the storms predicted by the National Weather Service this afternoon. Once those pass, we will re-evaluate the evacuation orders.”
In Sierra Madre, a rock slide on the Mt. Wilson trail prompted Sierra Madre city officials to urge residents to avoid the area late Saturday morning.

— Staff writer Grace Wong contributed to this report.

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Police: Extremely drunken driver arrested after hit-and-run crash in Monrovia

MONROVIA — A Pasadena woman is accused of having a blood-alcohol level more than three times above the legal limit when she fled the scene of a crash Wednesday, but left a trail for police to follow with her damaged car, officials said.
Police arrested Jennifer Jean Anspach, 36, on suspicion of drunken driving and hit-and-run shortly after the 7:23 p.m. crash on Foothill Boulevard at Violet Avenue, according to Monrovia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
She was making a left turn from westbound Foothill Boulevard to southbound Violet Avenue in a Nissan Versa when she collided with a Volkswagen Beetle that was eastbound on Foothill Boulevard, Monrovia police Sgt. Dan Verna said.
The crash caused the Volkswagen to spin out of control, ultimately striking a Hyundai Elantra, Verna said. No injuries were reported.
Anspach continued driving south on Violet Avenue following the crash, but left behind one of her tired, he said.
Her bare rim etched a line into the street officers were able to follow until they caught up with the damaged car at Colorado Boulevard, Verna said.
Officers stopped the woman and administered a field sobriety test, he said. Her initial blood-alcohol level was measured at .27 percent, more than three times higher than the legal limit of .08 percent.
According to county booking records, Anspach was being held in lieu of $25,000 bail pending her initial court appearance.

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Monrovia senior citizen loses $9,500 to scammers; suspect in custody

MONROVIA — A senior lost $9,500 in a scam and another was behind bars in connection with the alleged caper Wednesday, officials said.
Buddy Young Johnson, 67, of Norwalk was booked on suspicion of grand theft by trickery and theft with prior theft convictions in connection with the incident, which unfolded Wednesday afternoon in Arcadia and Monrovia, according to Monrovia police officials and Los Angeles County booking records.
But the victim’s money, as well as a second suspect, remained unaccounted for Wednesday night, the sergeant said. No description of the outstanding con artist was available.
The incident began about 2 p.m. when the victim, Monrovia man in his late-60s, encountered a man at a 99 Cents Only Store in Arcadia, officials said.
The man told the victim he had $250,000 and wanted to travel to Africa, but was unable to send the money there himself, saying it would be confiscated. The scammer offered the victim compensation to help, but demanded the victim withdraw a significant amount of cash to prove his financial responsibility.
Johnson then approached the first suspect and victim, pretending not to know the other scammer and claiming he wanted to get in on the deal as well.
After Johnson claimed to have withdrawn $35,000 and showed it to the unidentified scammer, the initial con artist told the victim it was his turn, according to police.
The victim agreed to withdraw $9,500, which the scammers persuaded him to wrap in a rag so they could pray over it, investigators said. But at some point, the scammers switched the man’s money for another rag stuffed with newspaper.
As the victim was heading to the bank, he notified a family member of what was going on, Verna said. The family member met the victim and scammers at the bank, and managed to grab onto Johnson and hold him until police arrived.
The second suspect managed to flee with the victim’s money, Verna said. A description was not available.
Monrovia police notified other nearby law enforcement agencies of the arrest in hopes of tracking down additional victims of the alleged con artists.
According to county booking records, Johnson was being held in lieu of $20,000 bail pending his initial appearance Friday in Pasadena Superior Court.

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Man accused of assault, drug possession stemming from Monrovia parking lot dispute

MONROVIA — A man is accused of assault with a deadly weapon and drug possession after intentionally striking another man with a car, then getting beaten up by his victim, police said.
Jorge Castillo, 44, of Simi Valley was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and drug possession following the incident, encounter, which unfolded just after 7 p.m. in a parking lot in the 900 block of West Huntington Drive, Monrovia police Lt. Michael Lee said.
The confrontation began when the 60-year-old victim asked the suspect to shut his car door to allow the victim’s girlfriend to get into his car, the lieutenant said. But the suspect refused, and the victim shut the door himself so his girlfriend could pass.
As the victim walked past again, the suspect opened the car door again, striking the victim, Lee said. The victim announced he was calling the police and attempted to take photograph of the suspect’s rear license plate.
The suspect then backed into the victim, knocking him to the ground, Lee said. He then yelled at the man as he lie on the ground and challenged him to fight.
But the victim “apparently knew a thing or two about fighting,” Lee said. He pummeled his attacker before the suspect fled. Police captured the suspect as he approached a nearby motel.
As police prepared to have the suspect’s car towed away because he was being arrested, they discovered more than 10 grams of a substance believed to be methamphetamine, as well as hundreds of prescription pills, which were primarily painkillers, Lee said.
The victim was not seriously injured, he added.

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Teen fights off would-be robber with skateboard in Monrovia

MONROVIA — A teenager used his skateboard to fight off a would-be robber armed with a knife late Thursday, officials said.
The encounter took place just after 9:10 p.m. in the courtyard of an apartment complex in the 100 block of West Colorado Boulevard, Monrovia police Sgt. Glen Coleman said.
The failed robber approached the teen, pulled a knife and demanded the teen’s skateboard, Coleman said.
But rather than turn over the skateboard, the teen struck the knife-wielding man with it and ran away, the sergeant said.
Police described the would-be robber as a man in his 30s, of dark complexion, about 5 feet 9 inches tall, wearing a heavy gray and black striped jacket and checkered shorts. He had lip piercings on both sides of his mouth.
Police searched the area, but the man remained at-large late Thursday.

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Young father fatally shot while walking home from work near Duarte


Detectives are seeking the killer or killers of an 18-year-old new father who was shot to death while walking home from work early Sunday in an unincorporated county area between Monrovia and Duarte.
Coroner’s officials haven’t officially identify the shooting victim, however devastated family members and friends identified him as Malcolm Mency.
He lived just around the corner from Broderick and Felberg avenues, where he was fatally shot just after midnight, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials and family members said. He was taken to an area hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.
No suspect description was available in the slaying, deputies from the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
“Deputies from the Temple Sheriff’s Station responded to the location regarding a report of a person down. When deputies arrived, they found the victim on the ground, suffering from a gunshot wound.”
Family members said Mency had been shot five times, including once in the head. An autopsy had not yet been carried out.
Handling detectives could not be reached for comment Sunday.
1223_NWS_PSN-L-SHOOTING3The young father was looking forward to his first Christmas with his 3-week-old son, Malcolm Mency II, said his girlfriend and the baby’s mother, LeBreonna Moore. He had scheduled the next week off to spend time with his family.
He was walking home from his job at a nearby Sonic restaurant when he was shot, Moore said. She spoke with him on the phone just minutes before the shooting.
“He said he got off early,” Moore said. He added that he was walking home, and was almost there.
“Five or 10 minutes later, I heard gunshots,” she said. She soon learned it was Mency who had been shot.
Friends and family members gathered at the scene of the shooting Sunday to console one another and leave candles and flowers on the spot where Mency was shot.
Loved ones said Mency was not involved with gangs and had no enemies.
1223_NWS_PSN-L-SHOOTING2“He stayed out of trouble,” Moore said. “All he talked about was our baby.”
Sister Dalisa Kline said her brother grew up in the area and graduated Mt. Olive High School at age 16.
He then studied medical assisting at Everett College and was interning at a medical office in Industry, family members said.
“This is not right. My brother did not deserve this,” Kline said through tears.
Sheriff’s investigators released no officials motive in the killing, however the unincorporated county area where the shooting took place, known to some as “No Man’s Land,” has long been a battlefield for rival gangs that inhabit nearby neighborhoods.
Officials obtained an injunction in 2010 against two local street gang a portion of Monrovia and No Man’s Land following violence between feuding gangs that resulted in 65 shooting and eight homicides in 2007 and early-2008. Duarte officials did not join in the injunction.
A longtime neighborhood resident who asked that his name be withheld for fear of retaliation said he slept through the shooting and learned of it when he awoke Sunday morning.
“He was a good kid. He wasn’t a gang banger,” the neighbor said. “He was quiet. He stayed to himself. I just saw him and his girlfriend hanging.”
And although he said he was outraged by the teen’s slaying, he said he had feared violence was on the horizon since a massive piece of graffiti appeared on a wall along a wash only dozens of yards from the shooting scene.
The graffiti displayed the name of a local gang, along with the names of other local gangs crossed out in a sign of intentional disrespect.
“I knew this was going to start something,” he said of the spray-painted wall. “I saw that and I just shook my head.”
He said he believed Mency got caught in the middle of the gang dispute.
“They were just looking for someone to shot. Malcolm was just the first person they saw,” the neighbor said. “It’s crazy, these youngsters killing each other. And for what? And the innocent ones get killed.”

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Monrovia burglars captured on surveillance footage


MONROVIA — Police sought help from the public Thursday in cracking a residential burglary case.
The break-in took place about 3 p.m. Dec. 7 at a home in the 200 block of Evergreen Avenue, Monrovia police officials said in a written statement. Images of the two burglars and their car were captured on surveillance footage, which investigators hope will lead to their capture.
The two men arrived in a silver, four-door sedan similar to a Lexus 300-series wit tinted windows, exited and went into the backyard, police said.
“They entered the residence by breaking the rear glass door,” according to the police statement. The silver car drove up and down the street as the burglars were inside the home.
The men fled with cash and jewelry just as the resident arrived home, officials said. The resident did not see the intruders.
Similar burglaries have been reported elsewhere in the area, and police advised residents to be alert.
“This incident is similar to many other burglaries that have recently occurred in the San Gabriel Valley,” according to the police statement. “Several of the incidents involve suspects using luxury model rental vehicles. The suspects knock on the front door, after no answer, they proceed to enter the rear yard and force entry into a rear door or window of the residence.”
Anyone who sees anything suspicious is encouraged to contact local police immediately.
Anyone with information regarding the Monrovia burglar is asked to contact Detective S. Bushmeyer at 626-256-8047, or via email at sbushmeyer@monrovia.laclen.org.

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