The Colby Fire as seen from a Glendora city street this morning. | Photo: Courtesy Shelby Arenas
When it became apparent that fire danger in Southern California was going to be very high this week, Angeles National Forest officials wanted to close two specific roads: Glendora Mountain Road and Glendora Ridge Road. So they went ahead and successfully secured a permit from Los Angeles County to close them between Monday and Friday.
It's not that this area is any more dry than the rest of the forest or that the Santa Ana winds blow especially harder. What makes this a problem area are humans. Fires, usually small, are pretty common here because the roads are popular for car and motorcycle races, according to Nathan Judy, a fire information officer with Angeles National Forest. He says it's not uncommon for racers, particularly during nighttime hours, to take a bad turn and go over the side into the brush, igniting a fire.
Despite being closed to vehicular traffic, walking into the forest was still allowed. And that's what happened today with the Colby Fire. Three young men, now in custody, are said to have hiked in to camp and allegedly started the blaze when trying to keep warm this morning.
The damage so far: some 1,700 acres charred, five homes destroyed, 17 structures damaged, thousands of people evacuated, and three people injured.
All four national forests in Southern California were put on alert Monday evening and increased staffing around the clock to respond as fast as possible to any fires.