Firefighters are working amid extreme heat conditions Tuesday to gain control over a raging fire that triggered new voluntary evacuations after scorching thousands of acres in the Cleveland National Forest.
Fueled by brush, steep terrain and high temperatures, the fast-moving Holy Fire exploded in size after erupting about 1:20 p.m. Monday in the Trabuco Canyon area. It spread rapidly across the main divide separating Orange and Riverside counties, officials said.
Within nine hours, the blaze had grown to 4,000 acres, according to the Orange County Fire Authority, one of multiple agencies battling the flames
On Tuesday afternoon, a new voluntary evacuation warning was issued for the Highway 74 corridor and all connecting roads, affecting the communities of Rancho Capistrano, El Cariso Village and Blue Jay. The warning is for the highway west from Lookout Restaurant to the Nichols Institute.
Residents were told to exit west toward Orange County, avoiding incoming fire equipment coming from Lake Elsinore in Riverside County.
Containment is at just 2 percent, a slight improvement from the previous night.
Mandatory evacuations were ordered Monday in the communities of Trabuco and Holy Jim canyons. The Blue Jay, Falcon and El Cariso campgrounds in the Cleveland National Forest, as well as all campgrounds in the Trabuco Ranger District, have also been evacuated.
One structure has been destroyed thus far, but there is no other imminent to threat to other buildings, according to Lyn Sieliet of the U.S. Forest Service.
Impacted residents can call the public information hotline at 714-628-7085 for more information.
In addition to evacuation orders, the following forest-area roads were also closed: Trabuco Creek, Maple Springs, North Main Divide, Bedford and Indian Truck Trail.
OCFA emphasized there was no threat to other nearby areas, including Robinson Ranch or Rancho Santa Margarita.
About 600 fire personnel were working via ground and air to combat the flames. Two OCFA hand crew members were transported to a hospital where they were treated for heat exhaustion, the agency said.
Added to the firefighting arsenal is the impressive Global SuperTanker, which was deployed in the state for the first time about a month ago after being activated for use by Cal Fire.
Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times