Firefighters battle 4,000-acre brush fire in Orange County amid extreme heat

A fast-moving fire broke out Monday in the Cleveland National Forest, exploding to more than 1,000 acres in less than three hours and forcing evacuations in two Orange County canyons.  


Firefighters braced for another day of high temperatures as they continued to battle a 4,000-acre brush fire in the Cleveland National Forest that forced evacuations in two Orange County canyons.

The Holy fire was moving rapidly into the forest, which straddles Orange and Riverside counties. One structure was destroyed, said Shannon Widor, spokesman for the Orange County Emergency Operations Center. The fire was 2% contained as of Tuesday morning.

About 600 personnel were involved in the battle, and authorities reported two heat-related injuries. Numerous roads and campgrounds were closed.

Excessive heat and red flag warnings were issued for parts of Southern California on Tuesday, with temperatures expected to reach the 90s around the fire zone.

The blaze was visible from as far away as Catalina Island, producing a towering plume of thick smoke. Authorities ordered evacuations in Holy Jim Canyon, the Trabuco Canyon residence tract, and the Blue Jay and Falcon campgrounds.


Firefighters were battling the fire with water-dropping aircraft, and officials have said that more evacuations in additional Orange County foothill areas were possible. Although the fire was burning away from suburban tracts, officials set up a strike team in the Robinson Ranch area in case of a shift. Officials emphasized Tuesday that Robinson Ranch was not immediately threatened.

Both Holy Jim and Trabuco canyons are rural areas dotted with cabins and larger homes. The fire broke out at about 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Meteorologists issued red flag warnings in the Los Angeles area, where temperatures will reach triple digits in several neighborhoods and cities early in the week.


The Holy fire comes as firefighters in Northern California continue to fight several monster blazes.

FULL COVERAGE: California’s summer siege of wildfires »

The Mendocino Complex fire is now the largest wildfire on record in California as it continues to grow in Lake County, officials said.

The Ranch and River fires, which make up the fire, had grown to 283,800 acres as of Monday evening, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The blaze was only 30% contained as of 7 p.m.

There are 18 large wildfires burning across California now, scarring a combined 559,000 acres, officials have said. In Redding, the Carr fire has claimed seven lives and more than 1,000 homes while growing to 163,207 acres, making it the 12th-largest wildfire in state history, Cal Fire officials said in a statement.


Fire officials are also concerned about the growth of the Donnell fire, which has spread to 12,000 acres since it ignited last week in the Stanislaus National Forest. The fire began along the Stanislaus River and has triggered mandatory evacuations, but like several other blazes around the state, the fire is in steep terrain that has made containment efforts difficult, according to a release from the U.S. Forest Service. The blaze was only at 1% containment as of Sunday night.


11:05 a.m.: This article was updated with containment numbers.

8:40 a.m., Aug. 7: This article was updated with a revised weather forecast.

8:20 p.m.: This article was updated with revised statistics on the Mendocino Complex fire.

7:45 p.m. This article was updated with preparations in Robinson Ranch.

6:40 p.m.: This article was updated with numbers on personnel and injuries.

4:50 p.m.: This article was updated to reflect that a structure was destroyed.

4:20 p.m.: This article was updated with new details on the fire’s size and evacuation orders.

3:40 p.m.: This article was updated was updated with new details.

2:55 p.m.: This article was updated was updated with evacuations and information about other fires.

This story was originally posted at 2:15 p.m., Aug. 6.