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A tunnel view leading to the Yosemite Valley is clouded in smoke from the Ferguson fire.
A tunnel view leading to the Yosemite Valley is clouded in smoke from the Ferguson fire. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Although a break in the weather has provided firefighters a respite from the scorching heat that has complicated the fight against multiple wildfires in California, an alert warning of poor air quality remains in effect for much of the Central Valley, the National Weather Service said.

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District warned of poor air quality in Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties, the east side of the San Joaquin Valley and the Sierra Nevada and foothill areas due to smoke from the Ferguson fire.

Air pollution control districts in Mariposa and Tuolumne counties have also issued air quality alerts, which will be in effect until the fire is extinguished. The Ferguson fire has scorched 96,457 acres and is 86% contained. The fire has also claimed the lives of a Cal Fire bulldozer operator and a captain of the Arrowhead Interagency Hotshots.

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People watch as the Holy fire rages on a mountainside in Temescal Valley.
People watch as the Holy fire rages on a mountainside in Temescal Valley. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Mike Milligan had poor reception in the Holy Jim canyons and foothills when his phone buzzed with a confusing text message: “911 call sheriff.”

The sender was a longtime Trabuco Canyon resident named Forrest Gordon Clark, an eccentric figure well-known in the tightknit community as a troublemaker with a temper who had long clashed with his family and neighbors.

Concerned, the chief of the Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Department dialed Clark’s number, but the call failed.

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  • Resources
  • Yosemite fire
  • Cleveland National Forest fire
  • Mendocino Complex fire
  • Redding fire
  • Holy fire
Felipe Montiel fishes at Lake Elsinore as the Holy fire reflects across the water while burning in the Cleveland National Forest.
Felipe Montiel fishes at Lake Elsinore as the Holy fire reflects across the water while burning in the Cleveland National Forest. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Wind-swept wildfires raging. Homes incinerated. Families displaced. Lives lost.

In the long, hot, smoky California summer of 2018, as we camp under ash-hued sunset skies, the scariest thought is that the future has arrived, and more intense weather extremes will continue to wreak havoc in years to come. Not just in summer, but with drought-deluge cycles and higher temperatures even in cooler months.

Last week, an 81-year-old Van Nuys resident told me that sure, summers have always been hot, but lately they seem to have been imported from Palm Springs.

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  • Cleveland National Forest fire
  • Holy fire
A helicopter fighting the Holy fire drops water on flames at along Ortega Highway.
A helicopter fighting the Holy fire drops water on flames at along Ortega Highway. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

It’s been an epic aerial assault that is showing signs of success. By Saturday morning, containment of the Holy fire had jumped from 5% to 29% in less than 24 hours. Flames whipped dangerously close to Lake Elsinore suburban developments, but there has not been a major loss of housing so far.

The hot conditions and unpredictable weather has made it difficult for firefighters to get ahead of the fire. But they have one big advantage: easy access to the water from Lake Elsinore, which they have used for countless drops.

  • Yosemite fire
Scott Gediman, public affairs officer at Yosemite National Park, walks across Stoneman Meadow in the Yosemite Valley.
Scott Gediman, public affairs officer at Yosemite National Park, walks across Stoneman Meadow in the Yosemite Valley. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Yosemite Valley will reopen to visitors at 9 a.m. Tuesday, after being closed for 20 days because of the Ferguson fire. The National Park Service also announced Friday that the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias will reopen at 9 a.m. Monday

Visitors should expect limited hours and services at park facilities as they return to normal operations.

  • Mendocino Complex fire
  • Redding fire
Land Park area near Redding, Calif., shows the fire's path of destruction.
Land Park area near Redding, Calif., shows the fire's path of destruction. (Redding GIS)

Aerial photos collected as part of a multi-agency collaboration creates a view of the Redding, Calif., area and the Carr fire’s path of destruction. Licensed drone pilots from the Menlo Park Fire District, the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office and other agencies assisted the city of Redding in capturing the aerial photos. Click through to see all photos.

Buenaventura Boulevard destruction.
Buenaventura Boulevard destruction. (Redding GIS)
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Arson suspect Forrest Gordon Clark
Arson suspect Forrest Gordon Clark (Orange County Sheriff's Department / AFP)

The man accused of setting the 18,000-acre Holy fire in Orange County that prompted thousands of residents to evacuate their homes this week made his initial court appearance Friday.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, made several outbursts during the hearing in Santa Ana, calling the charges against him a “lie,” and insisting again that he was being threatened, according to City News Service.

When a court commissioner ordered his bail to remain at $1 million, Clark said he could easily afford it. His arraignment was postponed until Aug. 17.

  • Resources
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

One key to getting through any emergency situation is preparation.

With wildfires raging across California, more and more residents are being faced with having to evacuate. The Mendocino Complex fire is now the largest wildfire in state history, a record previously held by last year’s Thomas fire.

The first thing to pack should be your “go bag” of essentials. That, experts say, should include:

  1. Water and nonperishable food
  2. A flashlight
  3. A first aid kit
  4. Batteries and chargers for your devices
  5. Several days’ worth of clothing — including coats, pajamas, underwear and socks
  6. Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for sanitation purposes
  7. A battery- or crank-operated radio
  8. A whistle to signal for help
  9. Local maps in case GPS isn’t working