Fires swept across Azusa, Calif., Jan. 16, leaving at least three injured and damaging 17 structures.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Glendora police Chief Tim Staab said the fire began when three men started an illegal campfire near Colby Trail and Glendora Mountain Road because they were cold.
The men were allegedly throwing paper into the fire when a gust of wind blew embers into the brush. The men will be charged in federal court, although federal prosecutors have not released any details.
Strong Santa Ana winds initially fueled the fire, causing it to quickly spread and send a massive cloud of smoke over the entire region, including Azusa Pacific University.
“We get fires a lot on the foothills but this one was bad,” said Ramanda Lazaris, senior journalism major at APU. “Classes were still in session, but there was definitely a sense of anxiety on campus.”
Evacuated residents have been cleared to enter back into their homes, but residents have not completely adapted to their normal routines.
“There may be a little bit of smoke popping up for a couple of days,” said Andrew, a firefighter from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Although the weather was favorable for the firefighters with winds reaching 5 miles per hour, they were still faced with dry brush and steep terrain. Firefighters took extra precautions by building containment lines to reduce the flames.
“We will not stop until we have a few days consecutive with there being no smoke at all and we can feel confident that those areas are completely contained,” Andrew said.
APU has returned to its normal schedule, and residents have attempted to adapt to the destructive changes.
“People are still talking about it; it was devastating to our community and things were destroyed because of a careless action,” Lazaris said.
Firefighters continue to patrol the Glendora neighborhood and are working to replace destroyed facilities.