The Holy Fire burning in Riverside and Orange counties is 78 percent contained Thursday, having charred 22,986 acres, with full containment expected. Aug. 21.
A voluntary evacuation order for residents of the Trilogy community in Riverside County’s Temescal Valley was lifted Wednesday as firefighters worked to knock down hot spots along the northern edge of the fire in Anderson Canyon, south of Corona.
Nearly 1,200 firefighters are working to build containment lines from the point of origin in Holy Jim Canyon in Orange County toward the north and east. Heavy fuels and steep terrain make final control on the north end of the fire in Riverside County difficult. This same rugged terrain, heavy fuels, and inaccessibility require water drops from helicopters to support crews on the ground and enable them to safely complete mop up and secure the fire line, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
All Forest Service facilities in the Highway 74 corridor remain closed, including Blue Jay, El Cariso and Falcon campgrounds in Riverside County.
School districts in Riverside County affected by the fire delayed their first days of classes until next week. The Lake Elsinore Unified School District will go back on Aug. 20.
Schools in the Corona-Norco Unified School District located south of the 91 Freeway and east of Border Avenue in Corona also pushed back the first day of school until next Monday.
The city of Corona announced a day camp to help working parents of students this week. It will be open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Fees are $110 for residents and $140 for non-residents, with priority for parents of students at fire-affected schools.
In Orange County, firefighters reported progress on containment lines in the area around Santiago Peak and attacked active flames in the Bell Canyon area in the southern part of the county.
The fire destroyed 18 homes, 12 in Orange County and six in Riverside County, since it erupted at 1:15 p.m. Aug. 6 near Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Creek roads, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said. The fire dramatically increased in size near the Horsethief Canyon area on Aug. 8, then jumped the North Main Divide dirt road, burning into the Lake Elsinore area of Riverside County, Bommarito said.
Bommarito noted that the area probably hasn’t burned since the early 1980s.
The man accused of starting the fire, 51-year-old Forrest Gordon Clark, remained jailed in Santa Ana in lieu of $1 million bail. He labeled the arson charges against him a “lie” and insisted he was being threatened by gang members.
Clark was charged with aggravated arson damaging at least five inhabited structures, arson of inhabited property, arson of forest and criminal threats, all felonies, as well as two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest.
His arraignment was delayed until Friday, and he could face 10 years to life in prison.