Holy Fire (2018)

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Holy Fire
Holy Fire from Mission Viejo.jpg
Smoke at sunset from Mission Viejo (8/9/18)
Location Cleveland National Forest, Orange and Riverside Counties, California
Coordinates 33°40′44″N 117°31′00″W / 33.67889°N 117.51667°W / 33.67889; -117.51667Coordinates: 33°40′44″N 117°31′00″W / 33.67889°N 117.51667°W / 33.67889; -117.51667
Date(s) August 6, 2018 – Present
Burned area 22,885 acres (9,261 ha)
Cause Arson (suspected)
Perpetrator(s) Forrest Gordon Clark (suspected)
Motive Unknown
Holy Fire (2018) is located in California
Holy Fire (2018)

The Holy Fire is a wildfire that is currently burning in the Cleveland National Forest in Orange and Riverside Counties, California. The wildfire was reported to have started on August 6, 2018 at around 1:30PM, in the vicinity of Trabuco Canyon.[1] The suspected arsonist, Forrest Gordon Clark, has been booked into the Orange County jail in Santa Ana, California.[2] The blaze grew to 22,885 acres (93 km2),[3] and residents of the nearby cities of Corona and Lake Elsinore were placed under evacuation orders.[4] The fire is currently at 91% containment.[4]


The Holy Fire was first reported at 1:17 PM PST on Monday August 6, 2018, in Holy Jim Canyon (from which the fire derives its name),[5] a community of about 40 homes and cabins in the Trabuco Canyon area of the Santa Ana Mountains.[6] Evacuation orders were issued for parts of Trabuco Canyon, including the entire community of Holy Jim. Trabuco Creek Road was subsequently closed at Trabuco Canyon Road indefinitely as the Orange County Sheriff Department continues their investigation. It quickly moved uphill in a northeast direction, jumping the crest of the Santa Ana Mountains into neighboring Riverside County, threatening the areas of Corona, El Cerrito, and Glen Ivy Hot Springs. At the time, the cause of the fire was under investigation.

By the morning of August 7, the fire had increased in size to 4,000 acres (1,600 ha),[7] and by August 8, it had grown to 6,200 acres (2,500 ha). Evacuation orders were first issued on August 8. By August 9 more than 21,400 people in 7449 residences were under mandatory evacuation in south Corona, Lake Elsinore, and several communities in the Santa Ana Mountains.[8][9] Ortega Highway has been closed indefinitely due to fire danger between Antonio Parkway/La Pata in San Juan Capistrano and Grand Avenue in the city of Lake Elsinore.[10]

By August 9, the fire had grown to 9,614 acres (3,891 ha), which increased by late evening to 10,236 acres (4,142 ha).[11] More than 1,000 firefighters, as well as 10 helicopters and 7 aircraft were involved. The fire was only 5 percent contained at that point.[12][13] Temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit and extremely low humidity contributed to the rapid spread of the fire. In addition, the area had not burned since the 1980s, and consequently had a lot of overgrown and dead brush that fueled the fire.[14] On the night of August 9 Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Orange and Riverside Counties.[15]

The fire nearly doubled in size overnight between August 9-10, and was reported at 18,137 acres (7,340 ha) on the morning of August 10 with help from the Elsinore Effect.[3] The Elsinore Effect is a local weather phenomena that occurs in the late evenings, when the sun sets behind the Santa Ana Mountains. The warm air above Lake Elsinore rises as it creates low pressure which pulls air down the mountains. This creates unpredictable winds within the canyons of the eastern Santa Ana Mountains, driving the fire towards the valley.

At 7 PM on August 10, the fire had grown to 19,107 acres (7,732 ha), and was 10 percent contained.[16] By the morning of August 11, it was at 21,473 acres (8,690 ha) and 29 percent contained.[14] On the morning of August 13, the fire was 22,714 acres (9,192 ha) and 52 percent contained. The number of firefighters had grown to over 1,500, and there were 86 helicopters and 14 airplanes assisting them.[17] Some evacuations had been lifted, although about 11,000 people remained under evacuation orders.[18] On the morning of August 15, the fire had burned 22,885 acres (9,261 ha), and was 78 percent contained. On August 16, fire growth had stopped, while containment increased to 82%. On August 18, containment increased further to 91%.


As of August 8, thirteen cabins had been destroyed in Holy Jim (sic - impacted cabins are in Trabuco).[19] No major injuries have yet been reported.[20] One home along Ortega Highway has been destroyed as of August 10th, the only confirmed home in Riverside County.

Evacuation areas[edit]

As of August 13, neighborhoods under mandatory evacuation include:[10][21][22][23]

As of August 13, neighborhoods under voluntary evacuation include:

  • Trilogy (Corona)[23]


Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, suspected arsonist

The fire was allegedly started by 51-year-old Forrest Gordon Clark; it was ignited near a cabin owned by Clark in the Holy Jim Canyon community.[24] He was arrested on August 8, 2018 and booked into the Orange County Jail on suspicion of two counts of felony arson, one count of felony threat to terrorize, and one count of misdemeanor resisting arrest. Two weeks before the fire started, Clark reportedly sent a message to Mike Milligan, the volunteer fire chief of Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Department, reading "This place is going to burn."[3] However, Clark later claimed he was asleep at the time the fire started.[25] Clark is currently being held in lieu of $1 million bail.[2]

Court appearance[edit]

On August 10, 2018, Forrest Gordon Clark made his first court appearance. He was originally scheduled to appear on August 9, 2018. However, he refused to leave his jail cell.[26] He is due back in court on August 17, 2018. [27]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grad, James Queally, Joseph Serna, Alene Tchekmedyian, Shelby. "Firefighters battle 4,000-acre brush fire in Orange County amid extreme heat". Latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Holy Fire: Suspect arrested in connection to blaze". ABC7 Los Angeles. 2018-08-08. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  3. ^ a b c Faith Karimi and Eliott C. McLaughlin (2018-08-10). "'The place is going to burn,' arson suspect allegedly texted before Holy Fire". CNN. 
  4. ^ a b "Holy Fire more than 9,600 acres near Lake Elsinore-Corona area". ABC7 Los Angeles. 2018-08-09. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  5. ^ https://www.ocregister.com/2018/08/08/who-was-holy-jim-anyway/
  6. ^ "Holy fire spreads to 4,000 acres in Orange, Riverside counties". The Mercury News. 2018-08-07. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  7. ^ "Holy fire spreads to 4,000 acres in Orange, Riverside counties". Ocregister.com. 6 August 2018. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  8. ^ "Mandatory Evacuations Ordered Due to Holy Fire Flare-Up". Nbclosangeles.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  9. ^ "Holy Fire burns more than 10,000 acres". Fox 5 San Diego. 2018-08-09. 
  10. ^ a b Marc Cota-Robles. "Holy Fire explodes to 18,137 acres in Lake Elsinore area". ABC7. 
  11. ^ "More than 21,000 Residents Ordered to Evacuate Due to Holy Fire". Nbclosangeles.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  12. ^ John Gregory (9 August 2018). "Holy Fire chars 10,236 acres near Lake Elsinore-Corona area". Abc7.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  13. ^ about, Marc Cota-Robles, bio, (10 August 2018). "Holy Fire explodes to 19,107 acres in Lake Elsinore area". Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  14. ^ a b Lloyd, Jonathan (2018-08-11). "Firefighters Make Dent in Holy Fire as Burn Area Increases". NBC Los Angeles. 
  15. ^ "Gov. Brown declares state of emergency for OC, IE due to Holy Fire". 10 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  16. ^ Marc Cota-Robles, Leticia Juarez and Jory Rand (2018-08-10). "Holy Fire explodes to 19,107 acres in Lake Elsinore area; 10 percent contained". ABC7. 
  17. ^ Self, Zac (2018-08-12). "Holy Fire grows in acreage, containment on day six". ABC 10 News. 
  18. ^ "Firefighters battling Holy Fire continue to make strides". Fox 5 San Diego. 2018-08-12. 
  19. ^ Haire, Chris (2018-08-08). "Holy Jim, devastated by fire, faces specter of vanishing forever". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2018-08-10. 
  20. ^ "Holy Fire chars 9,600 acres near Lake Elsinore-Corona area". ABC7 Los Angeles. 2018-08-09. Retrieved 2018-08-09. 
  21. ^ "What to Know: Holy Fire Evacuations, Road Closures". Retrieved 11 August 2018. 
  22. ^ Salvo, Christina (2018-08-13). "Holy Fire containment rises to 52 percent in Riverside County". ABC7 Los Angeles. Retrieved 2018-08-14. 
  23. ^ a b De Atley, Richard; Shultz, Craig; Saavedra, Tony (2018-08-12). "Firefighters get a handle on the Holy fire, containment jumps to 51%". Orange County Register. Retrieved 2018-08-14. 
  24. ^ "More areas evacuated as Holy Fire grows to 10,236 acres and jittery residents leave homes". Desertsun.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018. 
  25. ^ "Man charged with arson in California 'Holy Fire'". WGN9. 2018-08-09. 
  26. ^ "Man Suspected of Starting Holy Fire in Trabuco Canyon Area Is Charged After Refusing to Leave Jail Cell for Court Appearance". KTLA. 2018-08-09. Retrieved 2018-08-11. 
  27. ^ "'It's a Lie', Holy Fire Arson Suspect Says During First Court Appearance; Arraignment Continued". KTLA. 2018-08-10. Retrieved 2018-08-11. 

External links[edit]