Firefighters battle Holy Fire as it approaches structures

Maryland firefighters head west to battle wildfires

Maryland firefighters head west to battle wildfires

Interested in California Wildfires?

Ziggy Torok and Starla Affatati watch helplessly Thursday as the flames of the Holy Fire close in on Torok's home in the Rice Canyon neighborhood of Lake Elsinore, Calif.

"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.

More than 21,000 people and 7,400 homes have been evacuated in and around the city of Lake Elsinore, where flames and billowing smoke rose into the sky at the edge of the city of 60,000 near the Santa Ana Mountains.

Authorities are urging evacuation for people in the path of an arson-caused wildfire that's exploding along ridges, foothills and canyons south of Los Angeles.

They were trying to keep the flames from devouring neighborhoods and taking lives, as enormous fires still burning in Northern California have done. Twelve structures have been confirmed destroyed in the fire so far.

With temperatures soaring past 100 degrees, an excessive heat warning has been issued for the fire area.

He had been scheduled to appear before the court on Thursday but refused to leave his jail cell. He is being held on $1 million bail and faces life in prison if convicted.

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Cleveland National Forest officials tweeted that the Southern California fire is growing as fast as crews can build containment lines.

Fire spokeswoman Kate Kramer says Thursday that the majority of the 15-square-mile (39-square-kilometer) blaze is burning in wildland areas.

Some hillsides were allowed to burn under the watchful eyes of firefighters - to reduce fuel and make it harder for flames to jump roadways into communities if winds pick up again.

The webcam still from the Holy Fire, from the University of California at San Diego, is just one of a number of stunning images capturing these flying tankers. Officials advise people living in areas impacted by the smoke to take safety measures by staying in doors and running air conditioning units.

A 51-year-old man who is accused of making the threat, "This place will burn", for over three years has been arrested and charged with starting the so-called "Holy Fire", causing almost 10,000 acres to burn and 20,000 people to be placed under evacuation orders at Cleveland National Forest in Southern California. Firefighters fought a desperate battle to stop the Holy Fire from reaching homes.

The Holy Fire was one of several blazes burning across California that have displaced tens of thousands.

The fires, which were first reported on July 27th, are not expected to be fully contained until September 1st.

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