Andrew Mitchel a, spokesman for the Angeles National Forest, referred to the first event as the reservoir fire and stated the event was initially reported at 11 a.m. PST at Highway 39, in the San Gabriel Mountains. So far, 300 United States forest service crew members, water dropping helicopters, and the Los Angeles County Firefighters have fought the flames under circumstances of extreme heat. The reservoir event continued to burn, which resulted in the Azusa Police Department issuing mandatory evacuations for the Mountain Cove region.
The second event was referred to as, the fish fire and involved more firefighters working to contain the 500-acre inferno. The flames erupted near Brookridge Road and Opal Canyon Road. The second event burned rapidly uphill, away from homes. This resulted in multiple voluntary evacuations throughout the Los Angeles region. Keith Mora, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, stated there has not been any type of containment for either blaze, which resulted in the red flag warning issued for Southern California, until Tuesday, June 21, 2016. Both fires continued to burn in Los Angeles, California, a week later but they are now nearly contained. It has been noted. the two combined events were later referred to as the San Gabriel Complex fire.
Air tankers and helicopters were also used to fight the fish event. “The Washington Post” claimed, these aerial attacks created large clouds of smoke that were towering in the sky. These two scorching events come at a time when there were several other significant blazes burning in the western section of the United States that included Arizona, New Mexico, and other parts of Southern California. The fires in California continue to burn in Los Angeles County.
The San Gabriel Complex inferno burned around seven square miles between the two events. There were concerns these two significant events could combine into one massive inferno. These events were separate but were later linked together for statistical purposes, due to the stress on the emergency crews. Mora stated, the firefighters were working under extreme circumstances, such as the dry conditions, over 100-degree temperatures, and the 12-15 miles per hour wind gusts. California has been in a drought for several years, so the overly dry conditions are extreme. This is how the wind gusts were able to help build these flames, instead of snuff them out.
On Monday, the temperature reached a high of 123 degrees in southern California, which can be compared to the 115-degree temperature in Phoenix, Arizona. On Tuesday, June 21, 2016, the temperature was forecasted at 110 degrees in Azusa. The wind speeds decreased to single digit gusts, which helped the cause of the firefighters and volunteers aiding in yet another scorching tragedy. The wind speeds and temperatures were still elevated from their norm, which could have increased the possibility of another blaze somewhere else.
It was reported that the reservoir event did not spark the fish fire because the distance between the two areas was too great. As the San Gabriel Complex fire continued to burn, mandatory and voluntary evacuations were conducted in the communities affected. There were no clear reports as to where the displaced residents were able to go if they did not have an alternative place to stay.
The San Gabriel Complex inferno continues to burn, and the weather emergencies are not helping the situation. Southern California emergency services were already stressed by the flames, not to mention adding heat alerts, which affected nine million people. As the summer progresses, these common wildfires could continue to complicate the already difficult situations these states are facing. The fires in California continue to burn in Los Angeles but they have been predominantly contained.
By Kristina Lasher
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Los Angeles Times: Two fast-moving fires burn near Azusa and Duarte
The Washington Post: The Latest: 2 fires erupt in forest northeast of Los Angeles
NBC Southern California: Evacuations Ordered as Fires Break Out in San Gabriel Mountains
NBC NEWS: Simmering Heat Fuels the Flames for Pair of California Wildfires
San Gabriel Valley Tribune: LA County: Fish fire nearly contained, firefighters make progress on Reservoir fire
Image Courtesy of Shawn Bagley’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License