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By Alex Groves and Eric Heinz 

Updated at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 8: 

The Holy Fire currently burning in mostly Riverside County is moving east to northeast and is not threatening Orange County, several agencies reported on Wednesday, Aug. 8. Mandatory evacuations were sent out at 2 p.m. for several areas close to the Lake Elsinore area.

Large plumes of smoke can still be seen from San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano.

Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD) announced on Aug. 8 that 51-year-old Forrest Gordon Clark is suspected of causing the blaze. Clark was arrested and booked into 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.

The Holy Fire has charred more than 4,000 acres in the Cleveland National Forest by Wednesday and was 5 percent contained, according to fire officials.

The blaze, reported about 1:17 p.m. on Aug. 6, began in the area of Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Creek roads before consuming thousands of acres on the border of Orange and Riverside counties before nightfall.

The fire was burning rapidly earlier in the day, but was burning at a moderate rate of spread later in the evening, according to fire officials.

The fire injured two firefighters, destroyed 12 structures and prompted the evacuation of residences.

Holy Jim Canyon, the Trabuco Canyon recreational cabins and all Trabuco Ranger District campgrounds were placed under evacuation order. Since then, many more areas have been added to mandatory evacuation lists.

Several roads in the area were also closed, including Trabuco Creek Road, Maple Springs Truck Trail, North Main Divide, Bedford Road and Indian Truck Trail.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation center at the Rancho Santa Margarita Bell Tower at 22232 El Paseo  as well as San Juan Hills High School at 29211 Stallion Ridge for people affected by the fire.

Update at 8 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6: 

The Holy fire had burned through 1200 acres, hospitalized two firefighters and damaged a structure as it continued to rage in South Orange County Monday night.

The fire was moving in a northeasterly direction toward Riverside County, according to updates from the Orange County Fire Authority.

The blaze was reported shortly before 1:30 p.m. at Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Creek roads in the Cleveland National Forest, not far from the Riverside-Orange County line.

Early reports had the fire at between 50 and 75 acres but it soon swelled by hundreds of acres, prompting the mandatory evacuation of residents in Holy Jim Canyon, Trabuco Canyon and the Blue Jay and Falcon campgrounds.

The two firefighters had been hospitalized for what were described as “heat-related injuries,” according to U.S. Forest Service officials.

Two hikers were stranded in the area of the fire, but were said to have been evacuated shortly before 4:30 p.m.

Orange County Fire Authority officials said they were continuing to monitor the blaze alongside the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Monday night. Strike teams were watching it from the Robinson Ranch area.

Update at 4 p.m. Monday, Aug. 6:

Residents of two communities and two campgrounds were placed under mandatory evacuation Monday afternoon as firefighters battled a fast-moving blaze in the Cleveland National Forest.

The Holy fire had grown to more than 1,000 acres shortly after 4 p.m. and residents of Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Canyon Recreation Residence Tract were under evacuation order, as were the Blue Jay and Falcon campgrounds.

The fire was first reported at 1:17 p.m. at Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Creek roads and  quickly grew to its acreage over the course of a few hours.

The Orange County Fire Authority was the lead agency working the blaze until U.S. Forest Service’s Incident Management Team could arrive.

Original story:

Firefighters were battling a more than 700-acre wildfire in the Cleveland National Forest on the Riverside-Orange County line on Monday, Aug. 6, fire officials said.

The fire, dubbed the Holy fire, was first reported about 1:17 p.m. at Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Creek roads, according to Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito.

The fire burned at a rapid rate of speed, growing to its current size in just a couple hours.

The fire was burning away from Orange County, Bommarito said.

He said people in the nearby community of Holy Jim were being asked to evacuate the area in an “overabundance of caution.”

The blaze put up a large plume of smoke that was visible in South Orange County and Southwest Riverside County as well.

This is a developing story and The Capistrano Dispatch will update it as more information becomes available.



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