Holy Fire spreads east into Riverside County

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

Holy Fire Santiago Peak

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.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

5 thoughts on “Holy Fire spreads east into Riverside County”

  1. Why is the Holy Fire called that? I know the connection to Holy Jim, but where does the Holy Jim name originate from?

  2. Jim was an old guy and long time resident who cussed almost every word – so he was nicknamed Holy Jim. the hiking trail and area in that area was at some point named, Holy Jim Canyon/Trail.

  3. Who was ‘Holy Jim’
    In 1888, decidedly unsaintly Union veteran James Smith bought land in a remote canyon between Santiago Peak and Trabuco Creek. He lived there with his wife, Hat, and raised bees. Although reasonably even-tempered, Smith swore frequently, loudly, long-windedly, creatively, and without regard for the company he was in. Historian Jim Sleeper wrote that Smith could “cuss the devil into a bottle and screw on the cap.” Smith usually sported a hat with an upturned brim, a walrus mustache, a jacket with a big plug of tobacco in the pocket, and no shirt. He earned the nicknames “Greasy Jim” and “Cussin’ Jim.” In 1900, government cartographers named the canyon for its best-known resident, but some bureaucrat in Washington undoubtedly changed “Cussin’ ” to “Holy.” About eight years later, Smith retired to Santa Ana. As an old man, he’d get lost downtown and sheriff’s deputies would give him a lift. Jim swore all the way home.

  4. Please show exact perimeters of fire in relation to 15 freeway turn offs names of turn offs. We have relatives who live near the fire.

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