Sonja Harvey loaded pictures, important files and clothes into her sport utility vehicle and drove to a neighbor's house while a brush fire consumed hundreds near her backyard. Mandatory evacuations were lifted Sunday afternoon and authorities say the blaze was started by a weed trimmer used for brush clearance. Reggie Kumar reports from Monrovia for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on April 21, 2013.
Residents affected by the the Monrovia fire that scorched 125 acres starting Saturday were allowed to return home, and the blaze was 85 percent contained Sunday afternoon, fire officials said.
The evacuation center set up at 119 West Palm Avenue in Monrovia was closed as firefighters got a handle on the blaze, though no word was released on when the fire would be fully contained. Crews will be posted overnight to combat flare-ups, said Jennifer McLain, a spokeswoman for the city.
The fire prompted evacuations in several neighborhoods in Monrovia. It was sparked by a motorized weed trimmer being used by a gardener as part of a brush clearance effort around a home to reduce the chances of a brush fire breaking out, fire officials and the homeowner where the fire occurred said.
The homeowner, Glen Owens, said he got a frantic knocking at his door by the gardener after noon on Saturday and said he thinks the motor on the weed trimmer sparked the blaze.
He had hired a gardener to help clear brush around his home as part of a city requirement to cut dense weeds on private property.
The fire on North Madison Avenue in the foothills of Monrovia threatened neighboring homes and prompting up to 200 homeowners and their families to evacuate. The blaze elicited assistance from several fire agencies.
No injuries were reported nor were any homes damaged, but some residents had to sleep in their cars after evacuations were ordered.
Not everybody was allowed to return Sunday morning as firefighters continued to battle the remnants of the blaze.
"There is no imminent danger," Monrovia Fire Chief Chris Donovan said in a tweet from the Monrovia Fire Department.
Firefighters were particularly concerned about the quick spread of the blaze as high winds kicked up through the mountain areas overnight Sunday.
Once the fire has been contained, city officials said they would investigate whether Owens is liable for costs incurred due to the blaze.
"It’s just an accident -- that’s all,” Owens said. “I don’t see any responsibility there."