Aug. 11 (UPI) — Brushy, drylands in California between Orange and Riverside counties burn for a fifth day, leading to more than 20,000 evacuations from a fire blamed on arson.
The Holy Fire has scorched 21,473 acres since Monday after it ignited in the Cleveland National Forest’s Holy Jim Canyon. As of Saturday morning, it was 29 percent contained.
Thick smoke and ash spewing from the fire prompted air quality warnings.
As in many of the wildfires burning across the state, steep terrain in the Holy Fire is making it difficult for fire crews and engines to get close to the flames.
More than 1,500 firefighters, 86 water-dropping helicopters, and 14 fixed-wing aircraft have been fighting the blaze, believed to have been started by 51-year-old Forrest Gordon Clark.
Clark was arrested and charged with with aggravated arson, arson of inhabited property, arson of forest, criminal threats, two counts of resisting and deterring an executive officer, and arson burning multiple structures. He is being held at the Orange County Jail on $1 million bail.
On Saturday, Cal Fire posted updates of four other fires out of more than a dozen scorching the state.
Carr Fire has been blazing since July 23 across Shasta and Trinity counties. It began as result of vehicle mechanical failure.
The fire has led to three deaths, destroyed nearly 1,600 structures including 1,077 homes, and threatened 528 other structures.
The fire has burned 186,416 acres and was 55 percent contained.
“Firefighters worked through the night to build and improve containment lines. Burning operations were performed in more active portions of the fire, while mop-up and patrol efforts continued throughout the less active areas. Clear conditions overnight increased the possibility of spot fires,’ Cal Fire said in the incident report.
The Hat Fire started Thursday in Shasta County. It has burned 1,900 acres and was 25 percent contained.
“Firefighters continue working in steep, rugged terrain to increase and strengthen containment lines. A Red Flag Warning has been issued for the fire area through 11 p.m. Saturday, for hot, dry conditions and gusty winds,” Cal Fire said.
Mendocino Complex Fire
The Mendocino Complex Fire began July 27 in Colusa, Lake and Mendocino counties. Cause of the fire, made of up the Ranch and River fires, remains under investigation. The fires had burned a combined total of 325,226 acres and was 67 percent contained.
Two firefighters have reported injuries while fighting the fires, which have threatened 1,525 structures and destroyed 258 structures including 139 homes.
“The northern portion of the Ranch Fire was very active overnight and continues to threaten areas north of the fire perimeter. There was success bringing the western edge of the fire back into the Mendocino National Forest. Fire crews continue working on bringing bring the east edge of the fire back in to the Mendocino National Forest, but obstacles and access still prove to be challenging,” Cal Fire said.
The Nelson Fire started Friday in Solano County. It has burned 1,000 acres and was 65 percent contained. The fire has threatened 10 structures and destroyed one.
“Firefighters made good progress overnight building and reinforcing containment lines. Forward progress of the fire has been stopped. Additional firefighters will be staffing the fire today,” Cal fire said.