Ranch Fire Reduced to 2,500 Acres, Evacuation Orders Lifted, 0% Contained

AZUSA (CNS) - Residents in the Mountain Cove area of Azusa were allowed to go home this morning after evacuation orders were lifted even though a nearby brushfire  was 0% contained at 2,500 acres.

That is because the Ranch 2 Fire was no longer burning toward homes, according to Daniela Zepeda of the U.S. Forest Service.

“Firefighters did a really good job securing the perimeter of the fire closer to homes,'' Zepeda said. That is despite having an army of just 100 firefighters and waiting for reinforcements.

Winds have calmed down to 5-10 mph with gusts up to 15 mph and relative humidity was 31% but extreme temperatures of 105-108 degrees were forecast, Zepeda said.

Visibility in the area is 1/4 to 1/2 mile due to smoke, which makes it hard to get people to the remaining flames and the remaining fire is on terrain that is steep and difficult to access, she said.

The name of the blaze was changed from the Ranch Fire to the Ranch 2 Fire to avoid confusion with a November, 2019 Ranch Fire near the Mendocino National Forest and a July, 2018 Ranch Fire that was part of the Mendocino Complex Fire, Zepeda said.

The Ranch 2 Fire was reported about 2:45 p.m. Thursday near North San Gabriel Canyon Road and North Ranch Road, according to the Azusa Police Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department, which called in a second-alarm response.

A witness who lives in a riverbed near Mountain Cove told NBC4 an argument between two homeless men sparked the fire.

“There were two gentlemen in the back (of a homeless encampment) fighting and they were arguing over a bike and one guy said he'd burn the other guy out, and things got escalated to where the fire started,'' evacuee Jimmy Pockets told the station. “Ran over to try to put it out but it just took off so quick.''

The first mandatory evacuation orders were issued at 3:30 p.m. for Mountain Cove residents living south of Highwood Court, according to the Azusa Police Department. Mountain Cove residents north of Highwood Court were asked to voluntarily evacuate.

Shortly after, mandatory evacuation orders were extended to include Mountain Cove residents living north and west of Turning Leaf and Boulder Ridge, according to the Azusa Police Department.

Police announced around 11 p.m. the evacuation order for Mountain Coveresidents was lifted, but emergency vehicles would remain in the area for at least 72 hours to monitor the fire.

Helicopters and crews on the ground worked to prevent the fire from reaching nearby homes, and shortly before 4:30 p.m., the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported the blaze was growing but “burning away from foothill cities and into the forest.''

Shortly after 6 p.m., the Los Angeles County Fire Department said no structure damage or injuries were reported.

By 7 p.m., the Los Angeles County Fire Department began releasing some resources that were assisting the Angeles National Forest's fire crews.

State Route 39, also called San Gabriel Canyon Road, was closed in each direction in the area. Northbound lanes were closed at Sierra Madre Avenue and southbound lanes at East Fork Road, according to Caltrans.

Photo: Getty Images

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