Three acres burn, no injuries in Johnson Fire

About 200 firefighters battled a three-acre brush fire north of Claraboya Thursday night.

The fire was first reported at 8:06 p.m. on a trail near Johnson Pasture Road, according to Inspector Rich Licon of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Due to the fire’s proximity to a large condo complex, fire crews immediately went into structure protection mode.

County fire crews received help from the La Verne Fire Department to battle the two-alarm blaze, which was moving uphill at light-to-medium intensity. The fire, dubbed the Johnson Fire by authorities, reached 100 percent containment at around 9  p.m. after burning three acres, Inspector Licon said.

There were no injuries or structures damaged.

A voluntary evacuation order was also established for residents living in the northernmost part of Claraboya, with the Hughes Center serving as the makeshift evacuation center.

All traffic on Mountain Avenue was blocked at Base Line Road until 11 p.m.

Ken and Carol Rowland, who live in the condos on Highpoint Drive, chose to evacuate. They spent Thursday night watching TV in the Hughes Center as they waited for the go-ahead from fire officials to return home.

“The first thing we heard was a helicopter flying really low,” Mr. Rowland said.

About that time, Mr. Rowland said a neighbor was knocking on doors in the complex, telling people to come outside and see the blaze.

The Rowlands never saw the flames, but they described seeing an “orange glow” emanating from “beyond the first ridge” north of their home, as well as a large amount of smoke.

The Rowlands knew there was only one way in or out of Claraboya, and decided it was better to be safe than sorry. So Mr. Rowland said he and his wife took a couple of their handguns and drove down the hill to the Hughes Center.

Mr. Rowland estimated at peak hours, about 250 cars travel in and out of the hilly north Claremont neighborhood.

“I didn’t want to be the 250th,” he quipped.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, Inspector Licon said.

Matthew Bramlett


 COURIER photos/Steven Felschundneff


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