San Gabriel Complex Fire

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San Gabriel Complex Fire
SG Complex Fire.jpg
Smoke rising from the Fish Fire approximately two hours after it started
Location Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, California
Coordinates 34°10′05″N 117°54′00″W / 34.168°N 117.9°W / 34.168; -117.9Coordinates: 34°10′05″N 117°54′00″W / 34.168°N 117.9°W / 34.168; -117.9
Date(s) June 20, 2016 (2016-06-20) - July 23, 2016 (2016-07-23)
Burned area 5,399 acres (22 km2)
  • Vehicle Crash (Reservoir Fire)
  • Under Investigation (Fish Fire)
Fatalities 3 civilians
San Gabriel Complex Fire is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
San Gabriel Complex Fire
Location in Los Angeles

The San Gabriel Complex Fire was a wildfire that burned in 2016 in the Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, California, United States.[1] It was the combination of two separate fires, the Reservoir Fire and the Fish Fire.[1]


A DC-10 tanker drops fire retardant on the San Gabriel Complex Fire

Around 11 am on June 20, the first fire was reported in the San Gabriel Mountains along Highway 39 near the Morris Reservoir.[2] As the flames quickly spread to over 1,500 acres (6.1 km2), the Azusa Police Department issued mandatory evacuations for the neighborhoods of Rainbow Ranch and Mountain Cove.[2]

Over an hour later, a second fire erupted in Fish Canyon.[2] Dubbed the Fish Fire, the blaze exploded up and across the canyons above Duarte. It consumed 1,000 acres within just two hours of burning.[3] By 9 pm the Fish Fire had spread to over 3,000 acres (12 km2).[2]

By Tuesday morning, June 21, authorities declared that the two fires would be run as a combined incident known as the San Gabriel Complex Fire.[4] Additionally, FEMA issued a statement that the fire posed enough of a threat to cause major destruction that it constituted a major disaster, thus qualifying the incident for federal assistance.[4]


The fire caused widespread power outages in Azusa Canyon which resulted in smaller water systems being placed under a precautionary "boil water" order by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department to prevent possible bacterial contamination.[5]

The communities of Mountain Cove in Azusa, Rainbow Ranch and portions of Duarte were put under a mandatory evacuation order that lasted several days as the fires burned.[6]

Weeks after the fires broke out, two charred bodies were found in the burn area of the San Gabriel Complex incident. 31-year-old Carlos Perez and 16-year-old Jonathan Pardo are believed to have burned to death while hiking the foothills on the day the fires broke out.[7]


On June 20, the deputy chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department stated that the Reservoir Fire had been caused by a fatal vehicle accident near the Morris Reservoir.[2] The fire had been ignited when a vehicle veered off Highway 39 and then colliding with the descending mountainside alongside the highway.[8] The driver, Michael Spengler, died at the scene as a result of multiple blunt force and thermal injures relating to the crash and subsequent fire, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner website.[8]

The cause of the Fish Fire remains under investigation.[2]