Scary Photos of Fire Raging Steps Away From Los Angeles Homes

Campfires can spread in moments into wildfires, officials say.

Jan. 17, 2014— -- Firefighting crews were rushing to squelch flames in the hills outside of Los Angeles today before dangerous Santa Ana winds pick up again, authorities said.

Fires wept through the San Gabriel Mountains on Thursday, destroying at least two homes and scorching the parched earth.

Officials from the U.S. Forest Service told ABC News today that wildfires are often caused by campfires that go rogue, either from sparks flying into nearby dry vegetation or igniting pine needles and brush lying next to the fire itself.

See All of ABC's Photos of the Fires Here


"Certainly with the conditions the way they are in a lot of areas, it can happen," John Heil, press officer for the Pacific Southwest Region of the service said of the weather conditions in California. "Igniteability depends on the condition of the vegetation and wind. ... We've had several [fires] caused by campfires."

Three men have been arrested on suspicion of recklessly building a campfire in the forest that sparked the blaze.

Clifford Eugene Henry, Jr., Jonathan Carl Jarrell and Steven Robert Aguirre told police they were throwing paper into the campfire for warmth when a breeze picked up and set the wildfire, according to ABC News station KABC.

Police said the men were "apologetic." They are being held on $500,000 bond and are scheduled to make their first court appearance Tuesday.

The fire has torched more than 1,700 acres of forest, authorities said.