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Campfire Might Have Sparked Calif. Blaze, 3 Arrested

Flames from the Colby Fire destroyed at least five homes and injured three people, including two firefighters

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A house caught fire and collpased as the Colby Fire raged through Glendora Thursday morning. The fire had burned 1700 acres by 10 a.m. (Published Thursday, Jan 16, 2014)

    An out-of-control campfire might have started a 1,700-acre brush fire that destroyed two homes as it raced down a hillside and cast wind-blown embers into a foothill community south of Southern California's Angeles National Forest.

    Updated Article: Homes Threatened During Day 2

    Noon Update: Three Arrests in Colby Fire

    [LA] Noon Update: Three Arrests in Colby Fire
    Three men are booked on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire that grew out of control in the hills above Glendora. Adrian Arambulo reports for the NBC4 News at Noon on Thursday Jan. 16, 2014. (Published Thursday, Jan 16, 2014)

    Three men were arrested in connection with the fire, which forced evacuations involving about 1,000 homes as firefighters on the ground and in the air continue the attack in Glendora, a San Gabriel Valley city located about 30 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

    The men were booked on suspicion of recklessly starting a fire, said Glendora Police Chief Tim Staab. They were identified as Clifford Henry, 20, of Glendora; Jonathan Jarrell, 23, of Irwindale; and Steven Aguirre, 21, whose most recent residence is listed as Los Angeles.

    Colby Fire: Evacuation Information | Photos | Crews Gain Upper Hand on Flames

    The arrests came after a 911 caller reported "suspicious" activity in the area after the start of the fire.

    "They are being cooperative," Staab said. "One reported that they started a camp fire and the wind picked up."

    The suspects are being held on $500,000 bond each, up from $20,000 each.

    The Colby Fire, reported at about 6 a.m., quickly grew to 1,700 acres and sent thick smoke that could be seen throughout the Los Angeles region. It was 30 percent contained as of 4:45 p.m., according to the most recent update from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

    At least five homes have been destroyed in the fire and 17 other buildings were damaged, officials said. Two firefighters suffered injuried in the blaze and a civilian was also hurt.

    Embers blown by 30-mph wind gusts into a neighborhood set palm trees ablaze like matchsticks and sparked several small spot fires, pictured below.

    Watch: Resident Wakes to Brush Fire Outside Home | Embers Light Trees on Fire

    "It was growing pretty rapidly," said Jim Tomaselli, U.S. Forest Service. "The fire was initially inaccessible to our engines. It wasn't up against a road."

    During an afternoon news conference, fire officials said they were cautiously optimistic that crews were gaining the upper hand on the blaze, which broke out after the driest year on record in California and during what could be the driest January in the state.

    City News Service contributed to this report.