Three men were arrested Thursday for allegedly starting a rapidly spreading forest fire near Los Angeles that burned two homes, injured one civilian and sparked an evacuation order for hundreds of residents, authorities said.
The suspects in custody were accused of tossing papers into a campfire on the dry foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains when wind kick the fire into motion, Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab told reporters. The fire about 25 miles from Los Angeles had already consumed 1,200 to 1,700 acres, and the men were being held on $20,000 bail each, Staab said.
Authorities were knocking on doors enforcing the mandatory evacuation as embers and smoke from the flames crawled into neighborhoods near the mountains Thursday morning. Staab said officials opened two evacuation centers for those who need temporary shelter.
“You must be aware of your surroundings,” said James Lopez, chief of the LA County Sheriff’s Department. “Public safety is our first concern.”
The National Weather Service said it would maintain red flag warnings, which indicate a high-risk wildfire, in the area until 3 p.m. local time on Friday.