High temperatures forecast Monday could make the fight to control the Ranch 2 Fire in Azusa additionally arduous for firefighters and make the flames harder to put out in already dry vegetation.
As of late Monday morning, the arson fire had blackened 3,050 acres and was 19% contained, according to fire officials. There were 456 firefighters assigned to the blaze amid an excessive heat warning in effect through Wednesday evening.
No structures were damaged, and no injuries were reported.
A homeless man suspected of intentionally starting the blaze last Thursday afternoon surrendered to authorities on Sunday morning and was being held at the Azusa Police Department jail. Police did not release further information except to say that the investigation was still active and urged anyone with information about the fire’s origin to call 626-812-3200.
Osmin Palencia, 36, has had four misdemeanor arrests over the last two years, three by Azusa police and one by sheriff’s deputies, according to jail records. His last known residence was an encampment in the Azusa Canyon riverbed, police said.
A witness who lives in a riverbed near Mountain Cove said an argument between two homeless men sparked the fire, which came dangerously close to homes.
“There were two gentlemen in the back (of a homeless encampment) fighting and they were arguing over a bike and one guy said he’d burn the other guy out, and things got escalated to where the fire started,” evacuee Jimmy Pockets told NBC4. “Ran over to try to put it out, but it just took off so quick.”
All earlier evacuations orders have been lifted, but the following road closures remain in effect:
— San Gabriel Canyon Road/Highway 39: closed at Northbound Hwy 39 at Sierra Madre Avenue (southbound Highway 39 is closed at East Fork Road);
— Glendora Mountain Road: closed from Big Dalton to East Fork;
— Glendora Ridge Road: closed from Glendora Mountain Road to Mt. Baldy Road; and
— Santa Anita Canyon Road: closed from Arno Drive to Chantry Flats Road.
The Angeles National Forest changed its Forest Fire Danger Level from very high to extreme, and moved into full fire restrictions, including prohibiting campfires in developed sites. Cooking stoves, lanterns and similar devices that use propane, white gas or similar fuels are prohibited.
The Ranch 2 Fire was reported about 2:45 p.m. Thursday near North San Gabriel Canyon Road and North Ranch Road, according to the Azusa Police Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department, which called in a second-alarm response.