People in Mountain Cove and Rainbow Ranch in San Gabriel Mountains were prompted to evacuate due to a forest fire by Azusa PD.
Since it was first reported at 11 a.m., 2,200 acres of woodland have burned. The surrounding settlements have been evacuated. It seems that the first fire was occasioned by a car crash near the Morris Reservoir.
The fire due to the car crash was named the Reservoir Fire, but a second fire named the Fish Fire started on Fish Canyon Road a couple of hours later. The cause behind the appearance of the Fish Fire is yet unknown. Both came together and forced the evacuation of dozens of families. An evacuation center was set up by authorities at Memorial Park, 320 N. Orange Ave.
WATCH: Flames burn transmission lines in Duarte area #FishFire https://t.co/MisHW8smiU pic.twitter.com/YYVq3lNVPo
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) June 20, 2016
Containing the fire
Around 300 servicemen from the U.S. Forest Service tried to contain the flames while they were assisted by fire helicopters. The fire managed to reach nearby power lines, but it did not cause any major damages other than power outages for at least 105 people. The three nearby dams were operating on reserve resources and none of them suffered any damages.
Firefighters have stated that current conditions were extremely dry, which may reveal why two different fires managed to spark in different places and then come together.
Southern California was under emergency alert due to the proximity of the fire. Smoke advisories were issued, as the fire could be seen from Baldwin Hills, according to witnesses.
Authorities closed Highway 39 since it passed along the lower part of the canyon. Encanto Parkway and the city’s border with Duarte were also temporarily closed.
The fire was not able to be contained until 5 p.m. It is estimated that at least 600 homes were evacuated by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. Schools and campuses were evacuated according to district officials.
Witnesses explain the gravity of the situation, along with some personal inconveniences
Local Ed Ferguson lived near to where the fire started. He was forced to evacuate along with his family as he celebrated his 91st birthday. Fergusons’ family managed to pick up their belongings and pack their cars in order to protect themselves against the blazes.
The flames were joined thanks to the ongoing gusts that have filled the Southern Californian weather over these past few weeks. Temperatures at the Morris Dam reached 112 degrees at noon, while humidity stood at 8 percent. This, paired with 15 mph gusts and a car crash, created the perfect scenario for a massive forest fire.
At first, the only non-flammable thing that separated the fires was the canyon, but eventually, the fires merged and forced a more drastic reaction from authorities in order to protect the integrity of nearby structures and the lives of Azusa and Duarte inhabitants. Also, according to Los Angeles’ Weather Service, both Azusa and Duarte saw temperatures of 109 degrees on Monday.
At 5 pm, Duarte reporting 109° with RH of 10% #FishFire
— NWS Los Angeles (@NWSLosAngeles) June 21, 2016
The burnt area was almost the same as the one affected by the infamous Cabin Fire, which occurred in 2015. Cabin Fire started on August 14, managed to burn down over 1,700 acres 3 miles north of Highway 39.