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Heat and withered brush feed wildfires burning in Riverside, Orange counties

Warm temperatures, low humidity and withered brush fed a wildfire in the rugged Orange County hills that charred 155 acres Wednesday as crews hustled to stop the spread of the flames.

In neighboring Riverside County, firefighters continued to battle the Bogart fire, which grew to more than 2 square miles.

The Holy fire started in the early morning just east of Trabuco Canyon in the Cleveland National Forest, according to Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Larry Kurtz.

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By late Wednesday, the blaze was 5% contained.

The flames were not threatening homes but burned in steep, dry hillsides around Holy Jim Canyon and raced up north-facing slopes coated in light grasses and shrubbery. The vegetation was “starved for moisture,” Kurtz said.

Voluntary evacuations were issued for canyon-area residents.

But once the fire reached the top of the hills — in sweltering heat that hovered in the mid-90s — the flames stalled, Kurtz said.

“The wind is not acting on the fire. It slows down the fire’s rate of spread and gives us the chance to contain it,” he added.

Four firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were airlifted to local hospitals, Kurtz said.

Hundreds of firefighters in Riverside County continued to battle the Bogart fire, which broke out Tuesday afternoon near Beaumont’s Bogart Park.

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Investigators with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection have said the fire was caused by “juvenile activity.”

The blaze spread in the hills west of the Morongo Reservation and destroyed at least one building, fire officials said. Authorities said that by Wednesday evening, the fire had charred 1,470 acres and was 60% contained.

About 700 residents were initially evacuated, but authorities canceled the evacuation order by Tuesday night.

More than 400 firefighters have been assigned to combat the fire. Of those, four firefighters suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were treated at a hospital.

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joseph.serna@latimes.com

Twitter: @JosephSerna

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno

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UPDATES:

9:00 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with additional details on the size and activity of wildfires in Riverside and Orange counties.

5:40 p.m.: This article was updated with minor editing.

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3:30 p.m.: This article was updated with the latest size of both fires.

This article was originally published at 10:45 a.m.


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