AZUSA (CNS) - The Ranch2 Fire burning near Azusa was 96% contained this morning after scorching 4,237 acres and was not expected to grow.
“There has been no growth over the past four days and this is the final fire size,'' the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement Tuesday.
“Firefighters were able to complete the fire line on the western perimeter in rugged country (Monday) ... crews are working on cleaning up the fire line, back-hauling equipment and working on suppression repair,'' the USFS said.
“The entire fire perimeter is in monitor status,'' the USFS said. “Management of the Ranch 2 Fire will transition back to the Angeles National Forest and a smaller Type 3 team of Forest personnel will complete fire containment.''
Highway 39 reopened Tuesday up to the East Fork Bridge, but Highway 39 will remain closed north of East Fork Bridge. Glendora Ridge Road and Glendora Mountain Road were both open.
“We ask our public to stay out of the fire area to allow the land to recover,'' the USFS said. “Due to the good work of the firefighters, the Ranch 2 Fire did not turn into a large fire. The rugged and steep terrain, the dry chaparral and very, very warm days made this an unusually challenging fire.
The USFS is estimating that full containment will be achieved on Friday.
No structural damage has been reported since the suspected arson blaze began about 2:45 p.m. on Aug. 13 near North San Gabriel Canyon Road and North Ranch Road.
Eight cases of heat-related injuries to firefighters have been reported, and 50 firefighters have been treated for exposure to poison oak during the firefighting effort, said Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Orange County Fire Authority, who served as an information officer for the Ranch2 Fire.
The number of firefighters assigned to the blaze was reduced Tuesday to 179 from 275 on Monday.
Felony charges were filed last week against a 36-year-old homeless man who allegedly set the blaze during an argument with a fellow transient.
Osmin Palencia, who lives in a tent near the Mountain Cove community, could face up to 23 years in state prison if convicted of one count each of arson during a state of emergency and arson of a structure or forest, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Palencia -- who allegedly has a prior conviction from 2015 for dissuading a witness -- surrendered to authorities on Aug. 16 and has remained behind bars since then. He is set to be arraigned Sept. 11 at the West Covina courthouse.
The Angeles National Forest changed its Forest Fire Danger Level from very high to extreme last week and moved into full fire-restriction mode, including prohibiting camp fires in developed sites. Cooking stoves, lanterns and similar devices that use propane, white gas or similar fuels are prohibited.
Photo: Getty Images