LAKE ELSINORE (CBSLA) — With thousands of people ordered to evacuate the area where the Holy Fire continues to burn out of control, Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the counties of Riverside and Orange.
The Holy Fire is just 5 percent contained as it burns into a fourth day, scorching 19,000+ acres as of 8 p.m. Friday.
The wildfire started in the Orange County side of the Cleveland National Forest and has moved east toward Lake Elsinore in Riverside County. At last report, authorities say the fire is burning in Cold Water Canyon around Santiago Peak.
Authorities said they are also contending with what they are calling “The Lake Elsinore Effect,” in which hard, down-canyon winds are created in the afternoon heat, reversing the fire’s trajectory back up the canyon at night.
The winds did calm down Friday, allowing firefighters to keep the blaze’s growth at only 1,000 acres.
The governor’s declaration allows the state Office of Emergency Services to provide assistance to the counties faster and more efficiently.
About 21,484 people living in 7,449 homes have been evacuated in Mayhew/Sycamore Creek, Glen Eden, Horsethief, Rice Canyon, Rice Lake, McVicker, Machado and South El Cariso, Riverside and Shoreline zones, according to CalFire.
The fire nearly doubled overnight Thursday, coming dangerously close to homes in Corona. Some roofs were damaged in the area of Horsethief Canyon, where one resident said it looked like “an apocalypse movie.”
“It honestly felt like my house was being attacked.[…] I could feel everything getting pelted,” said resident Jay Ellis. “When my uncle ran outside to grab some stuff, he got burned and singed across his cheek.[…]
Schools in several Riverside County districts have been closed due to the poor air quality caused by the fire’s steadily growing smoke plume. Lake Elsinore Unified School District on Friday formally postponed the start of its school year to Aug. 20 during an emergency session of its governing board.
Ortega Highway has been closed both directions from Grand Avenue in Lake Elsinore to the Nichols Institute entrance in Orange County’s San Juan Capistrano.