Crews make progress battling Southern California wildfire

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. – Helped by slightly cooler temperatures, firefighters made steady progress Sunday in camps, a forest fire that destroyed 16 structures, as it raged through Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest.

The Sacred Fire was 41 percent contained Sunday afternoon after burning in the 35.5 square miles (92 km) of dry timber and brush, said Lynn Tolmachoff of the California Department of Forestry and fire protection.

“The weather here in California seems to be cooling down today and the next few days, and that should hopefully help firefighters be even more to be able to adapt,” Tolmachoff said. “They need to make better progress in the next few days.”

They should, with temperatures expected to again reach 100 degrees or more by the end of the week.

The Holy Fire — the name for the Holy Jim Canyon, where it began last Monday, is one of the almost 20 blazes burn in California, the state sees earlier, longer and more devastating bushfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change, and the housing is deeper in the woods.

With firefighters beginning to get a better handle on the blaze, and she began to lift evacuation orders in the weekend for the areas that were previously in its path, said Tolmachoff, who do not have the exact figures. More than 20,000 people were reportedly told to evacuate at one point.

Planes have made flight after flight, the dumping of water and light pink retardant on the blaze to protect Lake Elsinore and the other foot communities in the vicinity of the flames.

The man accused of intentionally starting the fire appeared in court on Friday, but his arraignment was postponed.

Forrest Clark, 51, made several outbursts, claiming his life was under threat and saying the arson charge against him was a lie. A judge ordered his bail to remain at $1 million.

Elsewhere, the largest fire ever recorded in California — the Mendocino Complex fires north of Sacramento destroyed more than 100 homes. It was almost 70 percent contained Saturday. Updated containment figures were not immediately available on Sunday. On Saturday had covered 508 square miles (1,315 sq. km).

The two-week-old Carr Fire which eight people were killed and burned more than 1,000 homes was more than 50 percent contained on Saturday.

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