Brush Fire in San Gabriel Mountains Still Raging, Scorches More Than 4,000 Acres

The wildfire was reported after 3 p.m. on Sunday in the hills off San Gabriel Canyon Road. As of 3:45 Monday, the blaze continued to burn, having consumed more than 4,000 acres.

By Jason Kandel and Janet Kwak
|  Thursday, Nov 15, 2012  |  Updated 6:08 PM EDT
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Flames continued to burn 4,000 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains just north of Azusa on Monday, more than 24 hours after it began.  Stephanie Elam reports from Glendora for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2012.

Stephanie Elam

Flames continued to burn 4,000 acres in the San Gabriel Mountains just north of Azusa on Monday, more than 24 hours after it began. Stephanie Elam reports from Glendora for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2012.

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A brush fire in the San Gabriel Mountains that prompted the evacuation of Labor Day weekend campers and picnickers in the hills above Glendora, Calif. and burned more than 4,000 acres continued to rage Monday afternoon.

Containment of the so-called Williams Fire remained at 5 percent, unchanged from Sunday night.

Fire crews continued the aerial attack on the blaze about 10 miles south of Highway 2. As of 3:45 p.m., at least 20,000 gallons of fire retardant had been dropped on the fire from DC-10 aircraft.

The fire was moving on Monday afternoon toward Rattlesnake Canyon Ridge. Fire officials said the goal was to stop the fire there.

Some 1,000 people, many of them enjoying the three-day holiday, were evacuated from several communities and from three campgrounds as the fire spread in the largely recreational area, said Nathan Judy, a spokesman with the Angeles National Forest.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies searched hillside trails for any hikers who were still walking in the hills. The evacuations started after 3 p.m. Sunday in the area off of San Gabriel Canyon Road in Azusa. Officials closed roads leading into the hills.

The Williams Fire, which had grown to between 30 and 40 acres by 3:45 p.m., was initially reported at 2:30 p.m. as a 4-acre blaze. It grew to more than 700 acres by 5 p.m. and 3,600 acres by 9 p.m., according to fire officials.

Highway 39 was closed early Monday.

The fire is named after Camp Williams, which according its the website, is a "quiet haven tucked away in the spectacular San Gabriel Mountains." It offers camping, swimming, fishing, hiking, biking, and panning for gold. The camp, located at the San Gabriel River East Fork has full-hook-up RV sites under giant oak trees.

The fire was burning uphill into heavy timber and steep, rugged terrain, fire officials said. Temperatures hovered in the low 80s and winds gusted to 12 mph by Sunday evening, forecasters said.

By morning morning, it was 75 degrees with 31 percent humidity, fire officials said. Winds gusted at about 2 mph.

A gray plume of smoke could be seen by commuters for miles. Some 400 firefighters were battling the blaze from the ground and air.

Maritza Martinez got out of the area when she noticed smoke.

"When we came up, we noticed a whole bunch of smoke and we started to notice something is burning and little by little the smoke started to grow," she said. "My little sister was like, 'Let's go! Let's go!'"

The experience was a first for Catharine Vega, one of nearly 12,000 visitors expected to use the park during the holiday weekend.

"I've never seen a real fire except on TV," she said. "We stopped to see, and we saw actual flames and it was scary because we didn't know what to do.

"You come here to enjoy and we were having fun."

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