The charred remains of two people whose bodies were found atop a hill in a recently burned area of Angeles National Forest near Azusa were hoisted from the scene Friday, a day after a man found them while searching for his missing brother and cousin.
It has not been confirmed that the bodies are those of Jonathan Pardo, 16, and his 31-year-old cousin, Carlos Perez. The two went missing after setting out on a hike just hours before the Reservoir Fire broke out on June 20, according to Jonathan's older brother, Ricardo, who said he and family members made the grisly find.
Family members said they were frustrated that a search was not conducted sooner.
"We were like four days sleeping out of nowhere. We saw a lot of animals. We risked our lives, you know? But we had to do it. He was our brother," Willian Alfredo Pardo said.
Family members say they spent the past two weeks trying to get law enforcement to search for their loved ones. Azusa police did an emergency ping order for their cellphone, which came back to this general area, but without a more specific location, a search wasn't launched.
Firefighters were called about 2:20 p.m. Thursday afternoon to an area along North San Gabriel Canyon Road, near Morris Dam above Azusa in the Angeles National Forest after a person in the area reported seeing bodies, Los Angeles County sheriff's officials said.
A special team from the Los Angeles County Department were using ropes to rappel down steep terrain where the remains were found.
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Sheriff's deputies said anyone in that area would not have been able to outrun the flames.
"The terrain that they're in, if that is them, there's no way to outrun a fire because they were uphill from the fire," Sheriff's Homicide Bureau Lt. Mike Rosson said.
Authorities were working to recover the remains and said they would be taking DNA samples from the family to see if there is a match.
The blaze that broke out June 20 burned more than 80 square miles in the Angeles National Forest and forced the evacuation of some 1,300 homes in foothill communities northeast of Los Angeles.
The fire was sparked by a vehicle running off the highway, as officials received a report of a fatal car crash along Highway 39 near the reservoir where the fire broke out, California Highway Patrol Officer Alex Rubio said.
The fires previously were called the Fish and Reservoir fires before authorities decided on the San Gabriel Complex Fire.
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, burning north away from homes but threatening some remote horse stables.