Photo via OnScene.TV

More than 1,000 firefighters Wednesday battled two brush fires that scorched about 5,400 acres in the Angeles National Forest and foothills above Duarte and Azusa, where more than 700 homes have been evacuated.

Fire officials said around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday that the Fish and Reservoir fires — which have not merged, but are collectively now called the San Gabriel Complex Fire — were 10 percent contained, with the blazes corralled to 4,900 acres.

“This is a big start in the right direction,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Capt. Mike McCormick said,  adding that about 1,040 fire personnel remain on the scene.

Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief John Tripp advised residents of Bradbury and Monrovia on Tuesday to pay attention to news coverage of the fire and have their evacuation plans ready in case they are ordered out of their homes, as the west side of the fire is the main area of concern.

As of Tuesday afternoon, 770 homes had been evacuated, McCormick said.

Firefighters from both the county and U.S. Forest Service were battling the fires amid scorching temperatures and bone-dry conditions. The state’s drought and the extremely hot weather created burning conditions more typical of August, according to the USFS.

The Reservoir Fire broke out shortly after 11 a.m. Monday off Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir dam north of Azusa, according to Sherry Rollman of the USFS. It grew to 1,500 acres by 10 p.m. Monday and 2,400 acres by daybreak Tuesday, forest authorities said.

The fire was sparked by a vehicle running off the highway, as officials received a report at 10:57 a.m. Monday of a fatal car crash along Highway 39 near the reservoir where the fire broke out, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said.

About 90 minutes after the Reservoir Fire began, a second blaze was reported near Opal Canyon and Brookridge roads near the Duarte/Azusa border, about four miles southwest of the Reservoir Fire. That blaze, dubbed the Fish Fire, quickly roared into the foothills, burning north away from homes but threatening some remote horse stables.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital around 6 p.m. Monday with “minor injuries” related to heat exhaustion, and a sheriff’s deputy suffered similar injuries earlier that day, fire authorities said.

No other injuries were reported.

Evacuation orders were issued in Azusa for the Mountain Cove, El Encanto and Rainbow Ranch areas, with an evacuation center established at Memorial Park, 320 N. Orange Ave. Voluntary evacuations were in effect for the Mirador and Crystal Canyon areas.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Duarte Mesa residents living above Markwood Street between Westvale Road and Tocino Drive, and above Conata between Tocino Drive and Mountain Crest Road.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued earlier for residents on Brookridge Road, with voluntary evacuations in effect for residents north of Fish Canyon Road from Greenbank Avenue to Encanto Parkway.

Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies Tuesday announced additional road closures linked to the fires. They are located at:

— Mount Olive Drive at Royal Oaks Drive

— Vineyard Avenue at Markwood Street

— Woodbluff Street from Sunnydale Drive

— Greenbank Avenue from Deerlane Drive

— Conata Street at Bettyhill Avenue

— Mel Canyon Road at Opal Canyon Road

— Mountain Crest Road at Fish Canyon Road

— Encanto parkway at Markwood Street

— Mount Olive Drive at Woodlyn Lane; and

— Mount Olive Drive at Elda Street.

The Red Cross established an evacuation center at the Duarte Community Center, located at 1600 Huntington Drive.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory because of the blazes, urging residents in smoke-affected areas to avoid strenuous outdoor activity. Those with respiratory or heart disease, older adults and children were advised to remain indoors.

—City News Service

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