Fire crews on Monday chased a brush fire across more than 10 acres of the Montebello Hills, putting out most of it by the evening, with crews expected to be on watch into Tuesday morning, officials said.
A black plume of smoke and flames could be seen up close from some backyards in the neatly-manicured, residential neighborhood overlooked by the Montebello Hills, and from as far as the baseball fields of Grant Rea Park. People at the Montebello mall and in adjacent cities also reported seeing and smelling smoke.
According to Montebello Fire Battalian Chief Kevin Collinge, the fire started at the center of the hills near the PXP offices. At around 8pm, the fire was completely “knocked down” and a smaller group of firefighters were keeping watch so that the fire does not spark back up.
The fire started just before 3pm and was thought to be contained after an initial fire fight, but the fire persisted, helped along by an eastward blowing wind that escalated it into a three-alarm fire.
By 5 p.m., the fire had blazed across at least ten acres of the hills, just missing the oil derricks operated by Plains Exploration and Production, an oil and gas company. Firefighting crews from eleven agencies, including Los Angeles County, Vernon, and Monterey Park had also joined the Montebello Fire Department in fighting the flames. A total of 21 engines and more than 200 firefighters were on the scene.
Authorities say the fire did not reached homes and no one was injured, though two power poles were burned down, exposing live power lines. Water to put out the fire is being pumped from nearby Legg Lake, where helicopters are stationed.
According to Montebello fire officials, the fire has not come in contact with any oil field operations and is only burning brush, however, they have not figured out how the fire started. “The fire marshal is on scene, and working with LA county” authorities to investigate the cause of the fire, said Montebello Fire Department Chief Tim Wessel.
Access to the burning brush is limited. They are relying mostly on helicopters to dump water over the fire and slowly delivering hand crews closer to the fire, he said.
Wessel is expecting to fight the fire until the morning. “The public is going to see flare-ups,” but people should not panic, he said. He says so far there have been no injuries and no structures damaged.
Onlookers gathered behind police cones and weathered the hot sun Monday afternoon to get a glimpse of the flames.
“Look, another one!” Three year old Nacho Martinez alerted his mother, Griselda, to a helicopter zipping over the hills and cascading water over flames that had just engulfed a tree. Griselda and her three sons were on their way to the Grant Rea Park water park, but stopped short when they saw the smoke. “It’s not something you see everyday,” she said.
Christina Escamilla, 31, had her cell phone out to capture the scene, which caught her attention as she drove along Beverly Boulevard. “Something like that you notice right away,” she said, and when she got closer, she realized the fire was near the historical Sanchez Adobe where she frequents on walks with her dog.
No evacuation has been called, but Geni Garcia, a 27 year Montebello resident found the fire too close for comfort. She went out with her son to get a closer look at the progress of the fire, worried that it was not subsiding. “We’re residents so we have to make sure it’s not getting too close,” she said.
Via: bell gardens sun