Environment & Science

San Gabriel Complex Fire updates: Most evacuation orders lifted

Aircraft make water drops over the San Gabriel Complex fire on Tuesday afternoon, June 21, 2016 in Bradbury near Spinks Canyon Road.
Aircraft make water drops over the San Gabriel Complex fire on Tuesday afternoon, June 21, 2016 in Bradbury near Spinks Canyon Road.
Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Firefighters are cautiously optimistic about their efforts to contain the twin fires burning in the San Gabriel Mountains. 

Improved weather in the aftermath of a severe heat wave allowed firefighters to make progress against the San Gabriel Complex Fire northeast of Los Angeles, the Associated Press reported.

Evacuations for communities in Duarte and Azusa were lifted as of noon Friday as firefighters continued to surround the fire. 

Evacuations & closures | Water concerns | Air quality | 626 Golden Streets

Fire Tracker: San Gabriel Fire

Update Sun. June 26, 09:47 a.m.

Multiple intrusions by drones over the fire on Saturday forced crews to temporarily halt air operations. San Gabriel Complex remains under a Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR). The fire has burned 5,285 acres and is 62 percent contained.

Update Sat. June 25, 10:20 a.m.

The fire has burned 5,285 acres and is 48 percent contained. Due to the power loss in Azusa Canyon, small water systems in the canyon (with the exception of Camp Williams) are under a "Boil Water" order. This is a precautionary measure to ensure that the water distribution systems do not have bacterial contamination. Water needs to be boiled for 1 minute at a rolling boil before use. This order will be lifted after tests show there is no bacterial contamination.

Update Fri. June 24, 1:12 p.m.

Firefighters continuing to battle flames in the San Gabriel Complex Fire are working to build containment lines along the north side of the fire and mop up remaining hot spots. 

“There is a lot of fire on the north side that still is not lined, and it has potential threats to certain areas, one being the unburned fuel between the two fires,” L.A. County Fire Capt. Michael McCormick told KPCC. 

He said firefighters are working two shifts, a day shift and a night shift, as they actively fight the fire. 

“The potential can always be there. If we get a wind event, a fire that might look out like this one, could possibly turn and become another raging front,” McCormick said. 

McCormick said that as long as firefighters continue to do the work they are doing to improve lines and mop up, they will hopefully have the ability and dedication to get the fire completely out.

As the weather forecast predicts more potential for triple-digit temperatures late this weekend, McCormick said that the heat alone will be OK — but when paired with winds, that’s when it becomes an issue. 

The San Gabriel Complex Fire is just one of multiple fires burning on the West Coast. 

"We ask the public to be diligent and not be careless approaching the Fourth of July weekend, and not using fireworks in areas that are illegal to do so,” McCormick said. 

He also urges the public to take firefighters seriously when it comes to having an evacuation plan in place in the event that more fires that endanger homes break out in the coming weeks. L.A. County Fire’s Ready, Set, Go program is a step-by-step guide to prepare your home for a wildfire and assists in developing an action plan in case of an emergency.

“As firefighters, we don’t want to lose any homes, and we don’t want to lose, more importantly, any lives. So do your due diligence, do the Ready, Set, Go program. Have a plan,” McCormick said. 

Evacuations & closures

Residents of Azusa and the Sunnydale, Mount Olive and High Mesa neighborhoods of Duarte were allowed to return home as of noon Friday, along with their pets, the Sheriff's Department said. Large vehicles, such as trailers and RVs, will not be allowed back in, and livestock will have to spend at least another night away from their homes. 

Highway 39 remains closed. 

Duarte residents on the following streets were set to be allowed home Friday: 

Homes in the San Gabriel mountain communities adjacent to the fire were still under mandatory evacuation orders Friday. Read more here.

Water concerns

Due to the power loss in Azusa Canyon, small water systems in the canyon were under a “Boil Water” order on Friday. This order was issued by Los Angeles County Public Health Department as a precautionary measure to ensure that the water distribution systems do not have bacterial contamination.

Water needs to be boiled for one minute at a rolling boil before use. This order will be lifted after water passes two tests showing there's no bacterial contamination. It's applicable to all small water systems in Azusa Canyon, with the exception of Camp Williams.

Air quality

A smoke advisory thanks to the San Gabriel Complex Fire remained in effect Friday, with the advisory extending the warning another day to last through midnight on Saturday, but fires continue to burn and the advisory has been extended several times already.

Unhealthy air quality and direct smoke at times will likely affect portions of the following areas, according to AQMD:

AQMD offered these tips for any area impacted by smoke:

  • Everyone should avoid any vigorous outdoor or indoor exertion
  • People with respiratory or heart disease, older adults, and children should remain indoors
  • Keep windows and doors closed or seek alternate shelter
  • Run your air conditioner if you have one and keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent bringing additional smoke inside
  • Avoid using a swamp cooler or whole-house fan to prevent bringing additional smoke inside
  • To avoid worsening the health effects of wildfire smoke, don’t use indoor or outdoor wood-burning appliances, including fireplaces

626 Golden Streets

The fire also led to the 626 Golden Streets event that was scheduled for Sunday to be delayed. The event was supposed to have included 17 miles of streets shut down to cars, opening them up for walkers, bikers and more.

626 Golden Streets bike ride