Police ID arson suspect in 2,200-acre Ranch 2 Fire; blaze moves away from SoCal homes


The Ranch Fire burns over a residential area, Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020, in Azusa, Calif. Heat wave conditions were making difficult work for fire crews battling brush fires and wildfires across Southern California. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

AZUSA, Calif. (NewsNation/KTLA) — Arson investigators now believe the Ranch 2 Fire that scorched more than 2,256 acres.

Osmin Palencia, 36, is wanted in connection with the fire, Azusa police said.

He was last known to live in the Azusa Canyon riverbed, near where the fire sparked at about 2:45 p.m. Thursday, investigators said.

Officials believe Palencia is violent and urged the public to use caution if they come into contact with him.

The so-called Ranch 2 Fire had burned about 2,200 acres and was 7% contained as of Sunday morning, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The Ranch 2 Fire was 7% contained by Sunday morning as firefighters worked to improve containment of the fire along its northern perimeter, trying to keep the blaze from spreading further into the forest, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Triple-digit temperatures and low humidity is forecast through Wednesday, conditions that will make the blaze more difficult to contain and potentially serve to spread it, fire officials said.

The brush fire was moving away from homes Friday morning, prompting officials to lift mandatory evacuations for the Mountain Cove neighborhood that was previously threatened by the flames.

Fire activity had been expected to increase Friday afternoon amid the hot and dry weather conditions. But the blaze ultimately failed to gain much ground Friday.

Video late Thursday night showed the fire burning dangerously close to homes near Highwood Court and Mount Laurel Way, which had been placed under a mandatory evacuation order earlier in the day.

About 300 homes were threatened at the time.

Firefighters successfully kept the flames away from homes and say the blaze is moving north Friday morning toward an area previously burned in last month’s Dam Fire.  

All evacuation orders were lifted as of 11 p.m., according to a tweet from the Azusa Police Department.

Highway 39 will remain closed as emergency vehicles remain in the area to monitor the fire, the Police Department stated.

The fire was reported about 3 p.m. Thursday in a creek bed near the corner of San Gabriel Canyon and Ranch roads.

The blaze started as firefighters were already battling the 11,000-acre Lake Fire, also burning in the Angeles National Forest.

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