Crews from different fire departments battle the San Gabriel Complex fire. Courtesy U.S. Forest Service
Crews from different fire departments battle the San Gabriel Complex fire. Courtesy U.S. Forest Service

The San Gabriel Complex Fire was 72 percent contained Monday, having scorched 5,381 acres, according to the U.S Forest Service.

As of this morning, 859 firefighters were battling the blaze, down from 923 Sunday, it said, adding that firefighters have been transported by helicopter to remote sites to continue fire suppression in areas difficult to access.

As firefighters push toward full containment, they will also remove equipment in the field no longer needed, including hoses, generators, chain saws and water tanks, officials said.

A Federal Aviation Administration Temporary Flight Restriction remained in place in hopes of preventing any private aircraft or drones from getting in the way of firefighting aircraft. On Saturday, privately operated drones violated the air space within which fire response teams were operating, prompting the suspension of chopper and plane operations.

All residents in the foothills above Azusa and Duarte who were evacuated have been allowed to return home, and roads are no longer restricted to just residents, according to the Sierra Madre Police Department. Sierra Madre police also announced Sunday that the Chantry Flats Recreational Area had been re- opened, a day after it was closed due to fire danger.

Highway 39 remained closed at old San Gabriel Road due to the ongoing fire activity, falling debris and crews performing mop up and patrol operations, officials said.

Firefighting personnel from both the Los Angeles County and the U.S. Forest Service have been working to extinguish the flames.

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 U.S. Forest Service. It was sparked by a vehicle running off Highway 39 near the reservoir, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said. One person died in that crash.

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.

The combined fire operation was named the San Gabriel Complex Fire, following the standard naming convention of calling blazes that are near each other “complex fires,” even though the two fires never merged.

—City News Service

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