Holy Fire in pictures: Apocalyptic scenes as wildfires rage in California

Clay Curtis
August 11, 2018

Crews are working furiously to keep a Southern California wildfire from burning more homes south of Los Angeles while firefighters in the north have finally gained ground against major blazes.

The Holy Fire, which broke out on Monday in Holy Jim Canyon in Orange County southeast of Los Angeles, has already destroyed 12 structures and was only 5 percent contained as of Friday.

The Mendocino Complex Fire, now burning in northern California, is the largest in the state's history.

Shannon Hicks, 59, defied an evacuation order and watched in awe as firefighters faced down a storm of flames that descended toward her street in the city of Lake Elsinore.

A man who identified himself as Clark spoke with a freelance video news crew the same day, telling them he had been terrorized by gangs and that "they told me they were going to send eight Mexicans, big Mexicans, and they were going to kill me".

An intentionally lit wildfire is growing perilously close to homes in California as 21,000 residents have now been told to leave. Grass, brush and trees are so dry from years of drought and recent heat that the potential remains for the fire to grow.

When asked if he knew how the fire started, Clark said he had no idea.

"Until this thing is barking at my door, I'm going to stick with it", he said.

A resident of the small community of Holy Jim Canyon in the forest was scheduled for a court hearing Friday on charges that he deliberately set the fire.

But the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says Thursday it will still take several weeks to fully surround the massive wildfire in Northern California, called the Mendocino Complex Fire, because it's burning in steep terrain that's hard to reach.

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It moved up through the rugged Cleveland National Forest and down into Riverside County, where it approached thousands of homes.

Orange County Fire officials say they believe the Holy Fire began near Cabin 14, which is owned by Clark.

Clark was arrested late Tuesday on two counts of felony arson, one count of felony threat to terrorise and one count of misdemeanour resisting arrest, said Susan Schroeder, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office. Since starting July 27, the fires, which are being fought together as a single incident, have destroyed more than 100 homes near Clear Lake and become the largest fire in recorded state history.

The fire is burning about an hour east of the ocean near the town of Lake Elsinore.

"I was asleep. I had two earplugs in", he said, according to a report by KABC-TV. He also claimed he had been threatened by the MS-13 gang.

Firefighters in California are battling 15 large fires.

Eric Lint, a neighbor of Clark whose cabin burned in the blaze, said he was not surprised by Clark's arrest.

Emergency dispatchers reported the fire was 300 acres as of about 4:50 p.m. and the Pit 1 Powerhouse was being evacuated.

In this map of the Holy Fire, the red line was the perimeter at 9:45 p.m. PDT August 8, 2018.

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