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Big Temperature Drop to Help Contain Holy Fire

Holy Fire (David McNew / Getty)
David McNew / Getty
CHRISS W. STREET
Newport Beach, CA

Firefighters expect big gains toward containing Southern California’s Holy Fire in the coming days, as AccuWeather predicts high temperatures will fall by 19 degrees from earlier this week.

The Holy Fire, near Lake Elsinore, California, has burned 22,714 acres and was 41 percent contained by 7 a.m. Sunday morning. Daily high temperatures in Lake Elsinore area soared to 111 degrees on Tuesday, 12 degrees above the seasonal average, but are predicted to fall to 92 degrees on Sunday, seven degrees below the seasonal average.

The Holy Fire started in a remote location and has not burned any structures, but the blaze approached El Cariso Village on the hill above Lake Elsinore and Blue Jay Campground at the southern end of the lake. Lower temperatures and calm winds on Saturday allowed air tankers and helicopters to make repeated water and fire-retardant drops.

The Holy Fire is alleged to have been intentionally started on August 6 by Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, who was arrested on Tuesday and appeared in court Friday. His arraignment on charges that include several counts of arson and making criminal threats was postponed due to mental health concerns, according to ABC News.

At the end of July, Clark was put on a hospital psychiatric hold and then released. Orange County Sherriff’s Deputies tried to contact Clark before the fire, but were unable to reach him last week. The Orange County Fire Authority said the evidence around his residence led officers to arrest Clark, according to CBS local news.

No witnesses have been found that observed Clark starting the fire, but Holy Jim Canyon fire volunteer chief Mike Milligan, who has known Clark for two decades, has warned state and local officials that Clark was a danger to the community. Milligan said he told authorities two weeks ago that Clark might kill somebody or burn something down.

Resources continue to pour into California to help fight the 14 uncontained major fires. Australia and New Zealand sent 138 fireline personnel, and U.S. Forest Service MAFFS C-130 airtankers and support personnel arrived from the Nevada Air National Guard, California Air National Guard and Colorado Air Force Reserves have been deployed, according to a Level 5 National Incident Report.

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