California wildfire forces more than 21,000 to evacuate homes

A firefighter lights a backfire while battling the Ranch Fire part of the Mendocino Complex Fire on Tuesday Aug. 7 2018 near Ladoga Calif

A man has been arrested in connection with the fire that is wreaking havoc near the border between Orange and Riverside counties, which are among the most populous counties in California.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a smoke advisory for most of Southern California through Thursday morning, August 9.

The Holy Fire has scorched 18,137 acres and was 5% contained, the forest said on its Twitter page on Friday morning.

Shannon Hicks, 59, defied an evacuation order and watched in awe as firefighters faced down a storm of flames that descended toward her street in the city of Lake Elsinore.

The forest service said: "We continue to actively engage, but can not get ahead of the fire".

Unless conditions improve significantly, MDAQMD expects to keep the smoke advisory in place over the weekend and will reassess the situation on Monday morning.

The fire threatened communities near the inland resort of Lake Elsinore in Riverside County, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) southeast of Los Angeles.

The fire, one of several across the state, has destroyed more than 19,000 acres of forest north of San Diego.

The spread of the blaze and threat to properties as well as air quality concerns has led California's Governor Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency for both counties.

The suspect charged with starting the Holy Fire in Southern California denies the charges against him, calling them "all a lie".

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"Arson is a bad crime that destroys dreams", she said in a press conference.

Orange County sheriff's deputies said they have had multiple encounters with Clark dating back to 2006, according to Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the department.

Before his arrest, Clark gave a rambling interview to a television reporter, claiming he didn't know how the fire began. The fire has grown quickly because of high temperatures and the area's steep terrain, according to the Cleveland National Forest.

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, is making his second trip to California to survey fire damage this summer.

Spitzer added that his constituents are "scared" and "fleeing their homes".

Officials are wary that the fire could threaten more homes if the wind were to change direction or the fire were to branch into drainage basins.

"Even if you're miles away, you want to be prepared if you're near the fire area or in an environment that can burn", said Thanh Nguyen with the SoCal Team One Fire Management Team, who suggested having a packed bag ready to go.

Two Trump cabinet officials are heading to Northern California next week to meet with officials working to contain the deadly Carr Fire, as the administration seeks to show its helping to fight this and other blazes ravaging the state. In the Golden State alone, active fires have burned roughly half a million acres in recent weeks.

The US National Weather Service says smoke from weeks of California wildfires, and others burning in the western US, has drifted over a vast area, affecting air quality "across the northern Rockies into western and central Canada and south over the northern Plains". The 181,000-acre (73,250-hectare) Carr Fire has destroyed almost 1,100 homes. On July 21, he and Republican Rep. Tom McClintock visited the incident command post for the Ferguson Fire just outside of Yosemite National Park.

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