California's Holy Fire prompts state of emergency

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The blaze is affecting two of the state's counties - Orange and Riverside.

Joe Rodriguez was using a power washer to wet down his patio in the McVicker Canyon Park neighborhood Thursday morning.

The Holy Fire - named for Holy Jim Canyon, where it began Monday - grew to almost 33 square miles (85 square kilometres) by Saturday morning.

Riverside County: Areas 22 (Corona/Norco), 23 (Metropolitan Riverside), 24 (Perris Valley), 25 (Lake Elsinore), 26 (Temecula Valley), 28 (Hemet/San Jacinto Valley), and 29 (Banning Pass).

The arraignment for Forrest Clark was supposed to be today, but the judge in the case said the suspect refused to go to court.

The fire, one of several across the state, has destroyed more than 19,000 acres of forest north of San Diego. But firefighters also made progress, with containment doubling from 5 to 10 percent.

Two firefighters have been treated for heat-related injuries in the Holy Fire.

On Thursday afternoon, the flames raced downhill toward Lake Elsinore, threatening homes and prompting mandatory evacuation orders for homes fronting the mountains.

More than 600,000 acres across the state have been consumed by this year's fire season, which experts warn is growing longer each year.

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When asked if he knew how the fire started, Clark said he had no idea.

Crews on the Mendocino Complex August 4.

The charges being leveled against Clark carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, said Susan Schroeder of the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

At least 17 major wildfires were burning across California on Thursday, with the Holy Fire dwarfed by other blazes farther north.

Clark, 51, is charged with three counts of arson, resisting arrest and deterring an executive officer. California firefighters are now working to contain at least 18 fires in the state. Thanks to new technology, Edman says, the National Weather Service has been better able to track the movement of smoke across the US from fires based in California, capturing it in visualizations and maps for just a few years now.

These hot and windy conditions can create extreme fire behaviour, as well as increasing dangers for those tackling the blaze.

Holy Jim volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Milligan, 71, explained why.

Crews continued aerial and ground firefighting efforts Wednesday, with 16 air tankers, 10 helicopters and additional fixed-wing aircraft assisting ground crews, who were working to build bulldozer lines, authorities said.

According to CNN, Milligan has known Clark for decades. Four Redding residents, a Redding firefighter, a bulldozer operator and a Pacific Gas & Electric utility worker also have died in connection with the blaze, which has destroyed more than 1,000 homes, officials have said. The Mendocino Complex Fire has burned through over 290,000 acres in Northern California and as of last week was named the largest wildfire in California history.