The Colby Fire began blazing around 6 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 16 near the Glendora Mountain/Azusa Canyon area.
According to the Incident Information System, Colby burned 1,952 acres and destroyed five homes and 17 structures. An estimated 300 firefighters worked against the fast-paced flame, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department
Although the university was never under any threat, the fire affected numerous students and faculty both on and off campus.
“My roommate woke me up at 8:30 a.m., and all I could see was a big, huge cloud of orange,” senior communication studies major Annie Hansler said. “We had been evacuated before in the year, so we really weren’t too worried. But when we saw how close the fire was, then we started to worry.”
Mandatory evacuations were issued for Easley Canyon, San Gabriel Canyon Road, Mountain Cove Community and homes north of Sierra Madre Blvd, according to an NBC report. Hansler and her roommates live on the northern side of Azusa Avenue, which is just before the entrance into the Canyon, and were asked to evacuate.
Due to the intensity of the fire, the majority of the Los Angeles/Orange County region was covered in a cloud of thick smoke and pollution that day. Various students on campus, especially those with asthma or respiratory problems, were encouraged to stay indoors and seek attention from the Health Center if needed.
Sophomore English major Maurice Johnson was one of the many students on campus who had an allergic reaction to the smoke.
“I was outside for classes and near a door at work for four hours, which is always swinging open,” Johnson said. “I have asthma, and so with the smoke entering my lungs, I caught a reaction which affected my breathing; my eyes and parts of my body swelled.”
Health officials issued air-quality warnings for several days afterward due to thick smoke from the blaze.
Despite the negative consequences of the fire, APU students have joined forces to help out the community during this time.
In last week’s Wednesday morning chapel, Associate Vice President for Internationalization Matt Browning invited students to gather and clean up the Garcia Trail.
“We need to lend a helping hand to the city of Azusa,” Browning said.
The symbolic “A” on the Garcia Trail was damaged and is no longer visible. However, the cross atop the mountain range remains standing.