More evacuations in California… Battling 18 blazes; May face worst fire season

Mandatory evacuations ordered as Holy fire grows to 6,200 acres; arson suspect arrested

The Holy fire roared toward Lake Elsinore-area communities to the northwest of the lake in Riverside County on Wednesday, Aug. 8, prompting authorities to order residents to flee a blaze that police say was intentionally set.

Crews had hoped to hold the fire at Main Divide Road in the Cleveland National Forest. But flames crested the ridge, so residents hurriedly packed their belongings.

As the acreage burned grew by about 50 percent Wednesday to 6,200 acres, mandatory evacuation orders were issued for the Lake Elsinore-area communities of McVickers Canyon, Rice Canyon, Horsethief Canyon, Glen Eden, El Cariso Village, Sycamore Creek, Rancho Capistrano and the Ortega Highway corridor from the Grand Avenue in Riverside County to Nichols Institute in Orange County.

The flames were about a half-mile to a mile from those communities, Vickie Wright, a spokeswoman for the incident command team, said about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“We still have a fairly good distance before homes are damaged,” she said.

That gap could close quickly if winds pick up, said another official, spokesman Thanh Nguyen. Officials were wary of the fire’s ability to branch out in different directions through drainage basins, and the possibility that erratic winds — brought on by thunderstorms to the east and the south — would push the flames in unpredictable directions, Nguyen added.

14,000 fight California fires, some from prisons or overseas

UKIAH, Calif. (AP) — Firefighters said for the first time Wednesday that they have made good progress battling the state’s largest-ever wildfire but didn’t expect to have it fully under control until September.

The blaze north of San Francisco has grown to the size of Los Angeles since it started two weeks ago, fueled by dry vegetation, high winds and rugged terrain that made it too dangerous for firefighters to directly attack the flames now spanning 470 square miles (1,217 square kilometers).

Crews, including inmates and firefighters from overseas, have managed to cut lines around half the fire to contain the flames, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said. The blaze about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of San Francisco around the resort region of Clear Lake has destroyed 116 homes and injured two firefighters.

BAD AIR: Capital city in a haze… 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A dull haze and the faint smell of smoke from distant blazes have blanketed many California cities for two weeks, forcing summer campers to stay inside, obscuring normally bright skylines and leaving cars covered with ash.

Smoky air from blowing winds is nothing new in California, but air quality experts say it’s rare for the dirty air to linger for so long, a reality of ever-larger fires that take longer to extinguish.

 

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