Firefighters battle Holy Fire as it approaches structures

The fire has burned over 18,000 acres northwest of Lake Elsinore, California

(Originally published at 9:01 a.m. PDT August 10, 2018)

Thursday afternoon and evening the Holy Fire northwest of Lake Elsinore in Southern California bumped up against homes on the southeast and east sides of the fire. Firefighters on the ground and in the air battled the flames very close to homes along McVicker Canyon Park Road and near the intersection of Grand Avenue and Lake Street.

A spokesperson for the incident management team said the fire grew close to El Cariso Village up on the hill above Lake Elsinore but it had not crossed the Ortega Highway, SR 74.

map Holy Fire California
In this map of the Holy Fire, the red line was the perimeter at 9:45 p.m. PDT August 8, 2018. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite 200 miles overhead at 2:54 a.m. PDT August 10, 2018. The accuracy of those heat sources is not guaranteed, and should be taken with a grain of salt. They may or may not be real. Click to enlarge.

Satellite heat sensing data shows that the fire spread significantly to the north and also on the south side, approaching the Ortega Highway.

(To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Holy Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.)

The team has not confirmed that any structures have been destroyed since day one of the fire on August 6 when approximately 12 structures in Trabuco Canyon were destroyed. It was not specified if the structures were outbuildings, such as sheds, or residences. A damage assessment team will be deployed Friday to determine if any homes were destroyed on the Riverside County side of the fire Thursday.

Fire officials said Friday morning the fire has burned approximately 18,137 acres, an increase of more than 8,000 acres in the last 24 hours.

Information released by the Cleveland National Forest, which is where the fire is burning, indicates that in addition to the weather, steep terrain, and limited access, another reason they are losing ground is they are not able to obtain all the firefighting resources they have requested. This is a result of many large fires currently burning in the Western United States — all competing for ground and air resources. Today over 29,000 personnel are assigned to wildland fires across the country.

Suspect arrested, suspected of starting the Holy Fire

There are reports that the suspect sent an email to the local fire chief saying “this place will burn”.

Forrest Gordon Clark
Forrest Gordon Clark. Credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, was arrested Wednesday, suspected of starting the Holy Fire which has burned 9,614 acres in Orange and Riverside Counties in Southern California. Officials said that on Thursday he will be charged with felony arson, felony threat to terrorize, and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

Mr. Clark owns one of 14 cabins in an area of Trabuco Canyon in the general area where the fire started. All of the cabins in the area burned except for his, according to Newsmax.

The Orange County Register reports that at one point on Tuesday Mr. Clark took off all his clothes while Deputies were questioning him. Newsmax wrote that other residents said he threatened firefighters with a sword while they were fighting the fire.

The video below is an interview with Mr. Clark conducted by OnsceneTV before he was arrested.

Below is unedited footage shot by OnsceneTV that appears to be in Trabuco Canyon on the west side of the Holy Fire. Mr. Clark can be seen several times as Deputies talked with him.

Holy Fire burns closer to subdivisions in Riverside, County California

The fire has grown to within two tenths of a mile of homes north of Lake Elsinore

Above: An S-2T air tanker comes past the smoke to drop retardant near the communication towers on Santiago Peak August 8, 2018 as the Holy Fire approaches. HPWREN image. (See other photos of air tankers dropping at Santiago Peak)

(UPDATED at 7:12 p.m. PDT August 9 2018)

News footage shot Thursday afternoon at the Holy Fire showed flames moving into a housing development north of Lake Elsinore in Southern California. Firefighters were scrambling to extinguish the numerous spot fires at the Rice Canyon Elementary School and close to homes near Lincoln Street and West Wind Drive. ABC7 video showed very intense fire, sometimes with 10 t0 20-foot flame lengths, burning adjacent to homes as air tankers dropped retardant. The video showed one actively burning spot fire in the neighborhood that had no firefighters working on it.

The reporter said many homes had been saved and none had been destroyed.

The incident management team, which releases very infrequent updates, has not changed the estimated size of the fire since earlier Thursday morning when they said it had burned 9,658 acres. The fire is probably significantly larger after the additional growth Thursday afternoon.

This video shot Thursday evening of the fire approaching hundreds of homes is impressive.

Holy Fire
Photo from the east facing HPWREN camera on Santiago Peak at 6:19 p.m. PDT August 9, 2018.

(Originally published at 8:15 a.m. PDT August 9, 2018)

Information from an overnight mapping flight showed that at 9:45 p.m. PDT August 8 the Holy Fire had worked its way down the steep Santa Ana Mountain slopes to within two tenths of a mile of McVickers Canyon Park Road in a densely packed subdivision north of Lake Elsinore, California. It was about a mile from the community of El Cariso and two miles from Interstate 15. The incident management team reports that 12 structures have been destroyed; that number could include outbuildings as well as residences.

(To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Holy Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.)

On Wednesday the incident management team said the fire had burned 6,200 acres. Thursday morning it had increased to 9,614 acres.

map holy fire
A 3-D map of the Holy Fire, looking west, based on mapping data collected at 9:45 p.m. PDT August 8, 2018. The white line was the perimeter about 20 hours before. Click to enlarge.

On the extremely rugged terrain in Horse Thief Canyon there is little firefighters can do other than wait for the blaze to come within striking distance of the hundreds of residences at the base of the slopes so they can beat back the flames as best they can. Numerous helicopters and air tankers, including three Very Large Air Tankers, two DC-10’s and one 747, have been dropping water and retardant at the base of the mountain near the structures and around the hoard of communication towers up above at Santiago Peak. Firefighters are patrolling in the subdivisions and making plans for how they can keep the residences from burning, and are talking with the diehards that are still in their homes in spite of the evacuation orders.

The areas under mandatory evacuation orders include McVicker Canyon, Rice Canyon, Horsethief Canyon, El Cariso, Rancho Capistrano, Blue Jay, Indian Canyon, Glen Eden, Sycamore Creek and Mayhew Canyon. The Ortega Highway 74 eastbound is closed.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, has been arrested and is expected to be charged with arson for starting the fire.

Forrest Gordon Clark
Forrest Gordon Clark. Credit: Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

Holy Fire spreads east into Riverside County

The fire has burned at least 4,129 acres northwest of Lake Elsinore, California

Above: The view of the Holy Fire from Santiago Peak at 10:40 a.m. PDT August 8, 2018.

(Originally published at 10:51 a.m. PDT August 8, 2018)

The Holy Fire was very active Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, moving east down the steep slope below the North Main Divide road in the Cleveland National Forest in Southern California. The fire started Monday afternoon in Trabuco Canyon about three miles west of the North Main Divide road. That road roughly follows the ridge top through the Santa Ana Mountains between the Ortega Highway (74) and Corona . The boundary between Orange and Riverside Counties also follows that ridge.

(To see all articles about the Holy Fire on Wildfire Today, including the most recent, click HERE.)

With the assistance of air tankers, firefighters had been able to minimize the growth on the east side of the ridge in Riverside County. But on Wednesday morning the fire has progressed quite a bit down the slope. At 10 a.m. Wednesday a spokesperson for the incident management team, Steve Rasmussen, said the fire is burning in Horsethief Canyon which runs east from the North Main Divide downhill to the communities near Alberhill southwest of Interstate 15.  KTLA, a Los Angeles TV station, has been reporting on the fire from a helicopter and at 9 a.m. Wednesday estimated that the fire had approached to within a mile of the Lakeview neighborhood which is north of Lake Elsinore.

A damage assessment has confirmed a total of 12 structures have been destroyed as of Wednesday morning. The incident management team did not specify if those were homes, outbuildings, or a combination of both.

KTLA photo holy fire
Photo by KTLA at approximately 9 a.m. August 8, 2018.

As of very early Wednesday morning fire officials said the fire had burned 4,129 acres, but due to the active fire behavior it could now be significantly larger.

As of 10:51 Wednesday morning the only evacuations orders in effect were for Holy Jim Canyon, Trabuco Canyon recreation residence tracts, and the Blue Jay and Falcon Campgrounds. Areas under voluntary evacuation included Sycamore Creek, McVicker, Rice,  Horsethief, and Glen Eden areas, and along the Ortega Highway west of the Lookout Restaurant.

map Holy Fire August 8
3-D map showing the approximate perimeter of the Holy Fire at 1:15 a.m. PDT August 8, 2018 as determined by a fixed wing aircraft. It is likely that by mid-morning on August 8 the fire has progressed farther downhill to the east.

With the other wildfires burning in California the incident management team has not been able to obtain all of the firefighting resources that they believe is needed. They are doing the best they can with what is available. As of Wednesday morning they had: 30 Fire Engines, 10 Helicopters, 7 Fixed Wing aircraft, 3 Dozers, 1 Water Tender, and 12 Hand Crews, for a total of 444 personnel. That are low numbers for the third day of a fire that is threatening many structures.

 

Holy Fire photo
The view of the Holy Fire from Red Mountain looking northwest at 8:52 a.m. PDT August 8, 2018. SDG&E camera.

Mendocino Complex of Fires grows larger across three counties

Together the two fires, which have not merged, have burned 290,000 acres

(Originally published at 12:39 p.m. PDT August 7, 2018)

The two wildfires that comprise the Mendocino Complex of Fires continue to chew up acres in three counties in northern California — Mendocino, Lake, and Colusa Counties.

The Ranch Fire, north and east of Clear Lake, has been expanding on all sides for the last two days except for the northwest side. Firefighters have slowed the growth near Upper Lake, Nice and Lucerne, but it has kept moving on the southeast side around Indian Valley reservoir and on the northeast side in the remote areas west of Lodoga.

To see all of the articles on Wildfire Today about the Mendocino Complex, including the most recent, click HERE.

The River Fire west of Clear Lake has only spread substantially in recent days on the north side east of Talmage. In spite of reports that the two fires have merged, as of Monday night they were more than two miles apart.

If the size of the two fires are considered together, they have burned 290,692 acres, which would make the complex of two fires, which are managed together, the largest in modern recorded state history. But if added to the list, it would need an asterisk since it is two fires. The Ranch Fire has blackened 241,772 acres, and considered alone it qualifies as the 5th largest in modern California history. To reach the number one position it would have to exceed the 281,893 acres attributed to last December’s Thomas Fire near Santa Barbara. The River Fire has burned 48,920 acres.

map Mendocino complex Fires California wildfires
Map showing the perimeter, in red, of the Mendocino Complex of Fires at 9 p.m. MDT, August 6, 2018. The white line was the perimeter two days before. The red shaded areas represent intense heat. Click to enlarge.

Photos from the Holy Fire

And, a video of the 747 Supertanker dropping

(Above: The Holy Fire as seen from the 747 Supertanker August 6, 2018. Credit: Hiroshi Ando, Drop System Operator, Global SuperTanker)

The photo above and the next three photos of the Holy Fire in Orange County, California were taken August 6 from the 747 Supertanker by Hiroshi Ando, Drop System Operator, Global SuperTanker.

Holy Fire Orange County California
The Holy Fire as seen from the 747 Supertanker August 6, 2018. Credit: Hiroshi Ando, Drop System Operator, Global SuperTanker.
Holy Fire Orange County California
The Holy Fire as seen from the 747 Supertanker August 6, 2018. Credit: Hiroshi Ando, Drop System Operator, Global SuperTanker.

(To see all articles about the Holy Fire on Wildfire Today, including the most recent, click HERE.)
Continue reading “Photos from the Holy Fire”