ibusinesslines.com December 10, 2018

California wildfire forces more than 21,000 to evacuate homes

11 August 2018, 07:10 | Erica Roy

California wildfire forces more than 21,000 to evacuate homes

Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch Fire part of the Mendocino Complex Fire

In Southern California, the Holy fire had grown to 9,614 acres by Thursday morning, continuing to burn areas of Orange and Riverside counties as it crept toward canyon homes, officials said.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Orange and Riverside counties as the fire carved its way along ridges in the Cleveland National Forest.

The Holy Fire started Monday in the Cleveland National Forest and has so far destroyed 12 structures, according to fire authorities. The 181,000-acre (73,250-hectare) Carr Fire has destroyed almost 1,100 homes.

More than 21,000 people and 7,400 homes have been evacuated in and around the city of Lake Elsinore, where flames and billowing smoke rose into the sky at the edge of the city of 60,000 near the Santa Ana Mountains.

Gusty winds continued to drive the flames but were expected to ease off overnight before blowing up again Saturday afternoon.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, who owns a cabin in Holy Jim Canyon, was arrested earlier this week after a standoff with police and charged with arson, making criminal threats and resisting arrest. It wasn't immediately known if he had a lawyer.

The mandatory evacuation orders were issued as the inferno - which is suspected to have been deliberately started - inched closer towards homes in the area.

Joe Rodriguez is one local who has stayed and is using a power washer to wet down his patio. "I was asleep. I had two earplugs in".

Firefighters fought a desperate battle as huge flames came within metres of some homes, feeding on dense, dry chaparral and propelled by 30-km/h gusts.

The wildfires tearing through California have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres of land, destroyed thousands of structures, and forced evacuations across the state.

When investigators went to question Clark he abrasively told them they weren't allowed on his property in Holy Jim Canyon, the flashpoint of the fire, Duff said. It truly does roar.

"It's my house, my capitol, my kingdom, I don't want to just leave it", said resident Belal Abdullah.

A U.S. Forest Service spokesman said more than a dozen cabins in Clark's neighborhood had burned.

Several fires are burning throughout California, including one that is the largest fire in the Golden State's history.

Its largest blaze, the Ranch Fire, was only 53 percent contained compared to 87 percent for its twin River Fire.

The Holy Fire, as of August 9, burned 10,236 acres and was 5 percent contained, ABC7 in California reported. Eight people have died as a result of the fires.

Now a smoky haze hovers over much of the state, creating unsafe breathing conditions.

Schools have been closed in Menifee, Perris and Lake Elsinore.

The smoke even drifted as far east as Salt Lake City in Utah. Last month, he was placed on a psychiatric hold.

Cal Fire crews are helping federal firefighters put out flames in national forests and one that has reached Yosemite National Park, prompting its closure at the height of tourist season.

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