Holy Fire (2018)
Smoke at sunset from the Holy Fire, as seen in Mission Viejo, on August 9, 2018
|Location||Cleveland National Forest, Orange and Riverside Counties, California|
|Cost||>$25.7 million (2018 USD)|
|Date(s)||August 6, 2018 – September 13, 2018|
|Burned area||23,136 acres (9,363 ha)|
|Non-fatal injuries||3 firefighters|
|Perpetrator(s)||Forrest Gordon Clark (suspected)|
The Holy Fire was a wildfire that burned in the Cleveland National Forest in Orange and Riverside Counties, California. The wildfire started on August 6, 2018 at around 1:15 PM PDT, in the vicinity of Trabuco Canyon. The suspected arsonist, Forrest Gordon Clark, has been booked into the Orange County jail in Santa Ana, California. The blaze burned 23,136 acres (94 km2) and destroyed 18 buildings, before it was fully contained on September 13, 2018. While the fire was actively spreading in early and mid-August, residents of the nearby cities of Corona, Temescal Valley, and Lake Elsinore were placed under evacuation orders.
The Holy Fire was first reported at 1:15 PM PST on Monday August 6, 2018, in Holy Jim Canyon (from which the fire derives its name), a community of about 40 homes and cabins in the Trabuco Canyon area of the Santa Ana Mountains. 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), 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 7,449 residences were placed under mandatory evacuation in south Corona, Lake Elsinore, and several communities in the Santa Ana Mountains. Ortega Highway was closed indefinitely, due to fire danger between Antonio Parkway/La Pata in San Juan Capistrano and Grand Avenue in the city of Lake Elsinore.
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). 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. 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. On the night of August 9, Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Orange and Riverside Counties.
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. 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, which was driving the fire towards the valley.
At 7 PM PDT on August 10, the fire had grown to 19,107 acres (7,732 ha), and was 10 percent contained. By the morning of August 11, the fire was at 21,473 acres (8,690 ha) and was 29 percent contained. 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. Some evacuations had been lifted, although about 11,000 people remained under evacuation orders. On the morning of August 14, the Holy Fire had grown to 22,986 acres (9,302 ha), while containment was at 59%. By then, it was also reported that the Holy Fire was dropping ash in the surrounding neighborhoods. On the morning of August 15, the fire remained at 22,986 acres (9,302 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%. On August 20, the Holy Fire remained at 22,986 acres (9,302 ha), while containment increased to 93%. On August 24, containment of the Holy Fire increased to 95%.
On August 26, the Holy Fire was inaccurately reported by multiple sources to be 100% contained. Then, on the morning of August 27, new flames flared up near Santiago Peak, outside the Holy Fire perimeter; the new flames subsequently breached the southern part of the containment lines, in the northwestern portion of the burn area, by 40 acres (16 ha), increasing the size of the Holy Fire to 23,026 acres (9,318 ha). However, officials stated that the new flames presented no threat to people, because the flames were far from communities and containment lines had already been established around the Santiago Peak communication towers. Late on August 27, the new flames had burned at least 150 acres (61 ha), with InciWeb reporting that the Holy Fire had grown to 23,136 acres (93.63 km2), while containment dropped to 94%; the new flames were only 10% contained. On the morning of August 28, no further growth in the fire was reported, while containment remained at 94%. During the evening of September 13, the Holy Fire was 100% contained.
By August 8, thirteen cabins had been destroyed in Holy Jim (sic - impacted cabins are in Trabuco). No major injuries were reported. By August 10, one home along Ortega Highway had also been destroyed, the only confirmed home in Riverside County at that time. By August 13, the Holy Fire had destroyed a total of 18 structures in both Orange and Riverside Counties.
- Blue Jay
- El Cariso
- Glen Eden (Corona)
- Holy Jim Canyon
- Indian Canyon (Corona)
- Sycamore Creek (Corona)
- Horsethief Canyon (Corona)
- Mayhew Canyon (Corona)
- Rancho Capistrano
- Trabuco Canyon
As of August 13, neighborhoods under voluntary evacuation included:
- Trilogy (Temescal Valley)
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. 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." However, Clark later claimed he was asleep at the time the fire started. Clark is currently being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
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. He was due back in court on August 17, 2018. On August 17, when he appeared for the second time, which was the third attempt for his court hearing, Clark’s erratic behavior caused a judge to stop the normal proceedings, ending with a suspension of the charges so Clark’s mental health and competency can be examined. Two examinations were submitted before his next court appearance on October 10, 2018. A third, "tie-breaking" examination was ordered after competing examinations were submitted. On November 28, 2018, Clark was ruled competent to assist attorneys in his defense, and subsequently the resisting arrest charges were dropped. On December 12, 2018, he pled not guilty to the remaining charges.
- 2018 California wildfires
- Santiago Fire — burned in a similar location in 2007; also caused by arson
- Mendocino Complex Fire
- "Holy Fire". Cleveland National Forest. September 14, 2018. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
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- "Holy Fire Reignites, Burns 150 Acres". CBS Los Angeles. August 28, 2018. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
- Faith Karimi and Eliott C. McLaughlin (2018-08-10). "'The place is going to burn,' arson suspect allegedly texted before Holy Fire". CNN.
- Ruben Vives; Laura J. Nelson; Doug Smith (August 12, 2018). "Firefighters gain upper hand on 22,700-acre Holy fire in Cleveland National Forest, as containment rises to 41%". Retrieved August 27, 2018.
- "Holy Fire Now 92 Percent Contained". NBC Southern California. 21 August 2018. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
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- "Holy Fire burns more than 10,000 acres". Fox 5 San Diego. 2018-08-09.
- Marc Cota-Robles. "Holy Fire explodes to 18,137 acres in Lake Elsinore area". ABC7.
- "More than 21,000 Residents Ordered to Evacuate Due to Holy Fire". Nbclosangeles.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- John Gregory (9 August 2018). "Holy Fire chars 10,236 acres near Lake Elsinore-Corona area". Abc7.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- about, Marc Cota-Robles, bio, (10 August 2018). "Holy Fire explodes to 19,107 acres in Lake Elsinore area". Retrieved 11 August 2018.
- Lloyd, Jonathan (2018-08-11). "Firefighters Make Dent in Holy Fire as Burn Area Increases". NBC Los Angeles.
- "Gov. Brown declares state of emergency for OC, IE due to Holy Fire". 10 August 2018. Retrieved 11 August 2018.
- 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.
- Self, Zac (2018-08-12). "Holy Fire grows in acreage, containment on day six". ABC 10 News.
- "Firefighters battling Holy Fire continue to make strides". Fox 5 San Diego. 2018-08-12.
- Colin Atagi (14 August 2018). "Holy Fire, now at 22,986 acres, is dropping ash. Here's how to safely remove it from your property". The Desert Sun. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
- Ashley Ludwig (August 28, 2018). "Holy Fire: Flare Up Grows To 150 Acres, 10-Percent Contained". Rancho Santa Margarita Patch. Retrieved August 29, 2018.
- "Holy fire fully contained in Orange, Riverside counties". The Orange County Register. 27 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
- "Holy Fire flare up expands to 40 acres". KUSI. August 27, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
- "Holy Fire: Flames reignite near Santiago Peak in Cleveland National Forest, prompting new response". ABC7 Eyewitness News. August 27, 2018. Retrieved August 27, 2018.
- Haire, Chris (2018-08-08). "Holy Jim, devastated by fire, faces specter of vanishing forever". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
- "Holy Fire chars 9,600 acres near Lake Elsinore-Corona area". ABC7 Los Angeles. 2018-08-09. Retrieved 2018-08-09.
- "What to Know: Holy Fire Evacuations, Road Closures". Retrieved 11 August 2018.
- Salvo, Christina (2018-08-13). "Holy Fire containment rises to 52 percent in Riverside County". ABC7 Los Angeles. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
- 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.
- "More areas evacuated as Holy Fire grows to 10,236 acres and jittery residents leave homes". Desertsun.com. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
- "Man charged with arson in California 'Holy Fire'". WGN9. 2018-08-09.
- "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.
- "'It's a Lie', Holy Fire Arson Suspect Says During First Court Appearance; Arraignment Continued". KTLA. 2018-08-10. Retrieved 2018-08-11.
- "Third arraignment attempt for Holy Fire suspect Forrest Clark goes off the rails again; charges suspended for competency evaluation". DesertSun. 2018-08-17. Retrieved 2018-08-17.
- "Judge drops two counts against Holy Fire suspect Forrest Gordon Clark in ongoing hearing". Desert Sun. Retrieved 2019-02-16.
- Holy Fire (InciWeb)