An aircraft drops fire retardant on the Colby Fire on Jan. 17 near Azusa, Calif.
(Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP)
Firefighters in Southern California were gaining more control of a blaze that had forced thousands to flee and destroyed or damaged nearly two dozen structures.
By mid-day Sunday, 78% of the wildfire that began in the Angeles National Forest before spreading northeast of Los Angeles had been contained, according to the Associated Press. But it may be three more days before the fire's 3-square-mile footprint is fully controlled.
"It's starting to look fairly good," Robert Brady, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, told the AP. "We're still in very dry conditions, so I would remind people to be careful out there."
The blaze was sparked last Thursday when a carelessly set campfire quickly grew out of control. Winds whipped the flames, fanning a fire that quickly stretched from the San Gabriel Mountains to the communities of Azusa and Glendale, roughly 25 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
More than 1,800 acres caught fire, leading to two people being hurt, and roughly 3,700 people having to flee their homes. Five houses were destroyed, and 17 other structures, including homes and garages, sustained some damage.
By Saturday night, firefighters had contained 61% of the Colby Fire, and all mandatory evacuation orders had been lifted. The three men believed to have set the initial campfire have been arrested.
The wildfire was a vivid reminder of the dangers Californians face coming off the driest year on record for the state.
Last Friday, California's Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency, asking residents to significantly reduce their water usage and California agencies to create an initiative to conserve water, according to The Los Angeles Times. California residents haven't been mandated to ration water, but some areas in Northern California have begun such efforts.
"We ought to be ready for a long, continued, persistent effort to restrain our water use," Brown said at a news conference.
Contributing: The (Palm Springs, Calif.) Desert Sun; The Associated Press
Charisse Jones, USATODAY