Covering the fight against California's wildfires

Colby Fire Burns More Than 1,860 Acres

Firefighters are protecting foothill communities northeast of Los Angeles from a wildfire that likely began with an illegal campfire

By Jonathan Lloyd
|  Saturday, Jan 18, 2014  |  Updated 4:45 PM PDT
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As crews make progress on the Colby Fire near Azusa, most of the residents placed under evacuation orders are being allowed to return to their homes. Kim Baldonado reports from Azusa for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014.

Kim Baldonado

As crews make progress on the Colby Fire near Azusa, most of the residents placed under evacuation orders are being allowed to return to their homes. Kim Baldonado reports from Azusa for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014.

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Photos and Videos

Noon Update: Homeowners React to Colby Fire Destruction

A homeowner describes what she found after the Colby Fire burned her home to the ground. Kim Baldonado reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Friday Jan. 17, 2014.

Noon Update: Firefighters Attack Spot Fires

Spot fires and flareups continue to pop up during Day 2 of the Colby Fire in Angeles National Forest. Tena Ezzeddine reports for the NB4 News at Noon on Friday Jan. 17, 2014.
More Photos and Videos

Firefighters gained ground in the battle against an 1,863-acre brush fire that destroyed five homes after an out-of-control campfire spread out of Angeles National Forest northeast of Los Angeles.

California Wildfires: Fire Map

As of Saturday morning, 200 residences were still under evacuation orders, according to the Forestry Service's Nathan Judy.

Containment is not expected for a few days, according to Judy.

The Colby Fire broke out early Thursday morning. Several neighborhoods remained on mandatory evacuations on Friday as crews mopped up areas and doused hot spots.

Overnight, fire crews set backfires in an effort to push the fire back into the forest and away from a foothill neighborhood. Officials announced Friday night that the Forestry Service would be lighting several backfires in hills at the West end of the city of Glendora.

"Crews made good progress," said Dave Richardson, of the LA County Fire Department. "Crews were able to work around structures and put out hot spots."

Evacuations are in effect for 870 homes in Azusa. Closures and evacuations were ordered from Yucca Ridge to Highway 39.

"We're going to try to get people back home as soon as we can," U.S. Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy said.

All Glendora residents were allowed to return home Thursday night after earlier evacuations forced them from their homes in the community about 30 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Watch: Historic Mansion Property Damaged

Containment of the fire was at 30 percent Friday evening.

Three men were arrested in connection with the fire. They are accused of starting an illegal campfire amid the dry brush of Angeles National Forest. The fire likely spread when the men used paper to fuel the flames, according to investigators.

Images: Colby Fire Sends Smoke Over SoCal

The fire raced downhill and into residential areas, sending embers into palm trees as spot fires popped up in the neighborhood. Smoke from the fire could be seen throughout Southern California. Air quality advisories -- indicating unhealthy air -- were issued.

The warnings come after the driest year on record in California and what could be the driest January in the state. The all-time low rainfall record in January occurred in 1984, when just 0.3 inches of rain fell across California.

A red flag warning, indicating a high risk of  wildfire because of high winds, low humidity and dry vegetation, remains in effect for the fifth straight day.

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