Crews battle growing wildfire near homes in California


LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. — Firefighters fought to spare homes Friday from a growing Southern California forest fire, a day after flames came perilously close to neighborhoods and destroyed one house.

Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Orange and Riverside counties as the fire carved its way along ridges in Cleveland National Forest south of Los Angeles.

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

Aircraft dropped fire retardant on flames and homes as people ignoring evacuation orders used garden hoses to spray down their properties when the blaze flared Thursday evening, propelled by 20-mph (30-kph) gusts.

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.

“It looked like a tornado. The flames were just twirling and twirling,” she said. “I thought, ‘There’s no way they’re saving my house.’ But somehow they did.”

One resident wasn’t so lucky. Standing in the ashes of his burned home on Friday, Dan Pritchett told KNBC-TV that he and his brother stayed until a wall of flames roared near.

“I turned to him and said, ‘Let’s go,'” Pritchett said. “(There were) 100-foot flames right on the crest of the hill, right in front of me.”

Along with Pritchett’s home, the Holy Fire burned 12 cabins at its origin in the community of Holy Jim on Monday. It had grown to nearly 30 square miles (77 square kilometers) by Friday night. However, firefighters also doubled their containment from 5 to 10 percent.

It’s one of nearly 20 blazes across California, which is seeing earlier, longer and more destructive wildfire seasons because of drought, warmer weather …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

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