Holy Fire: 21,000 evacuated as California blaze inches to Lake Elsinore

A truck passes by flames during the Ranch Fire in Clearlake Oaks Calif

Aircraft dropped fire retardant on flames and homes as people ignoring evacuation orders used garden hoses to spray down their properties when the blaze flared Thursday evening, propelled by 20-mph (30-kph) gusts.

Meanwhile, two major wildfires - one called the Mendocino Complex Fire that is the largest in California history - were burning more than 160 kilometres north of Sacramento.

More than 21,000 people have been evacuated in and around Lake Elsinore, where furious flames and billowing smoke rose into the sky at the edge of the city of 60,000 as the blaze burned nearby in the Santa Ana Mountains.

Two other people have died in the Ferguson Fire, which has forced the partial closure of Yosemite National Park.

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As of Thursday morning, crews had contained an impressive 51 percent of the fire.

"Our main focus this afternoon was getting everyone out safely", said Thanh Nguyen, a spokesperson for the crews battling the Holy Fire.

Earlier this week law enforcement identified that human, arresting Forrest Gordon Clark on two counts of felony arson, one count of felony to terrorize and another count of misdemeanor resisting arrest. "I just woke up, dude".

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 risky for firefighters to directly attack the flames now spanning 470 square miles.

The man suspected of setting the blaze, 51-year-old Forrest Clark, appeared in court Friday, but his arraignment was postponed.

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The BBC's Peter Bowes in Los Angeles says high temperatures, gusty winds and tinder dry brush have fuelled the disaster in Orange County.

The Holy Fire was one of almost 20 blazes across California, which is seeing earlier, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather attributed to climate change and home construction deeper into forests.

The fire is named for Holy Jim Canyon, where it erupted Monday and burned a dozen cabins.

Susan Schroeder, spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office, said her office would "bring him to justice for these bad crimes".

"Firefighters continue to battle the blaze around the clock", the national forest tweet said.

Residents flee a neighborhood with their belongings after a spot fire broke out at the Holy Fire in Lake Elsinore, California, southeast of Los Angeles, on August 10, 2018. "I reported this over and over again".

The charges being leveled could carry a life sentence, said Susan Schroeder of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

Schools have been closed in Menifee, Perris and Lake Elsinore.

The Holy Fire burns in the Cleveland National Forest.

Zinke made no mention of water access in an op-ed he wrote for USA Today Wednesday on the extreme fires ripping through the Western United States.

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