State of Emergency Declared for Southern California's Holy Fire; Infernos Grow in Northern California


At a Glance
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for areas impacted by the Holy Fire in Southern California.

In Northern California, the Mendocino Complex Fire may not be fully controlled for months, officials said.

The death toll in Northern California's Carr Fire increased to eight early Thursday morning.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for areas impacted by an aggressive wildfire burning south of Los Angeles.

The emergency declaration was issued Thursday for Orange and Riverside counties because of the so-called Holy Fire, burning in the Cleveland National Forest. The inferno has chased some 20,000 residents from their homes, and others were urged, though not required, to evacuate.

"I don't know anything about the neighborhood," Lake Elsinore resident Josh Castro told CNN.com after evacuating. "Hopefully I have a house in the morning."

The fire, which started on Monday, has grown to 28 square miles and is 5 percent contained. Gusty winds and triple-digit heat have complicated the firefighting efforts.

"These conditions will increase the likelihood of extreme fire behavior as well," said the U.S. Forest Service.

On Wednesday, officials announced that Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, was arrested and accused of arson in connection with the fire.

In total, more than 1,000 square miles of land have been burned during the recent California wildfire siege, according to Cal Fire officials, and more than 30,000 firefighters are currently deployed to fight 18 large active infernos.

Eighth Death Confirmed in Carr Fire
Fire officials on Thursday confirmed another death in the so-called Carr Fire that destroyed more than 1,000 homes in just a few days' time.

Andrew Brake, 40, died in a single-car accident on his way to work on the fire as a heavy equipment mechanic. He was a six-year Cal Fire veteran.

He became the eighth person to be killed by the Carr Fire, which has burned for more than two weeks in and around Redding, California.

The Carr Fire is now the sixth most destructive wildfire in state history, according to Cal Fire records. It's also the 13th-deadliest and 10th-largest wildfire the Golden State has seen since records began.

The wildfire has destroyed nearly 1,600 structures, 1,077 of which are homes. More than 500 structures are still threatened by the blaze.

The inferno reportedly started when a tire blew on a tractor-trailer, which caused a spark as the rim of the tire struck the asphalt, CNN said.

The inferno was 51 percent contained as of Friday, according to Cal Fire. It has burned at least 283 square miles of land, an area larger than the city of Chicago. More than 38,000 people were forced to evacuate because of the fire, the Associated Press reported.

Mendocino Complex Fire Expected to Burn Until September
Firefighters say they have made good progress battling California's largest-ever wildfire, but they don't expect to have it fully under control until September.

The Mendocino Complex Fire, north of San Francisco, has grown to nearly the size of Los Angeles since it started two weeks ago. More than 480 square miles have burned, and the fire is 60 percent contained.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox told the AP the area has few natural barriers to slow flames and terrain that firefighters can't get to. So firefighters fall back to the nearest road, ridge or river, where they bulldoze a wide line and wait for the flames to come to them.

The fire, which has torched land in Mendocino, Colusa and Lake counties, has destroyed at least 119 homes and 110 other structures. Some 9,200 buildings are still threatened, Cal Fire said.

Monday, night, the fire's size surpassed last December's Thomas Fire, which burned more than 440 square miles in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, claiming more than 1,000 structures and one life.

Nearly 20,000 people were ordered to evacuate in Lake and Mendocino counties as the blazes encroached on several towns surrounding Clear Lake. Evacuations were expanded in neighboring Glenn and Colusa counties, including an area just east of the boundary of Mendocino National Forest.

Authorities are investigating what caused the fires.

Source: weather

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