San Gabriel Complex Fires now 96 percent contained

 San Gabriel Complex Fires now 96 percent contained

30 June 2016

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USA — Firefighters today appeared to be in the final stages of battling the San Gabriel Complex Fire, which has burned 5,399 acres since breaking out more than a week ago.

The Complex Fire consists of two blazes that are burning relatively close to each other but haven’t merged. The Reservoir Fire, which has consumed 1,146 acres, is 96 percent contained. The Fish Fire, at 4,253 acres, is also 96 percent contained, Angeles National Forest officials said.

As of this morning, 308 firefighters from the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the U.S. Forest Service were working to put out the stubborn blaze.

With the fire nearly out, authorities were looking ahead to salvaging and protecting the area in dispatching a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team to identify imminent post-wildfire threats, forest officials said.

Concerns following the 10-day blaze include the loss of vegetation; soil exposed to erosion risks; and hazards stemming from the runoff of water used to battle the blaze including flooding, an increase of sediment and damage to critical natural resources, forest officials said.

Crews today were on scene installing water bars, which are water- or erosion-control ditches that channel water away from the burned area to help prevent erosion.

Authorities Wednesday evening reopened Highway 39, which had been shut down at old San Gabriel Road amid last week’s evacuations from the foothills above Azusa and Duarte that saw 1,376 residences cleared due to the threat of the blaze. The evacuations were all called off Friday and an American Red Cross evacuation center to accommodate the residents was also closed.

The Reservoir Fire broke out shortly after 11 a.m. June 20 off Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir dam north of Azusa, according to Sherry Rollman of the 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 two fires were designated as the San Gabriel Complex Fire, even though they never merged.

With the Fourth of July holiday coming up, forest officials stressed to the public that fireworks are illegal every day in every forest and campsite. Drones are also restricted from the area, authorities said.

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