Azusa Wildfire 96% Contained, 4,237 Acres Burned

AZUSA (CNS) - The Ranch2 Fire burning near Azusa was 96% contained this morning and firefighters kept the fire from spreading beyond the 4,237 acres already burned.

Crews monitored the perimeter of the fire line and full containment is expected Friday, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

On Tuesday, Highway 39 reopened up to the East Fork Bridge. And today, at 8:30 a.m., Highway 39 was set to reopen north of East Fork Bridge to the permanent closure two miles north of Crystal Lake Road, according to Caltrans.

Glendora Ridge Road and Glendora Mountain Road were both open.

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.

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.

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