Australian and New Zealand fire crews help tackle California wildfire

Firefighters conduct a controlled burn to defend houses against flames from the Ranch Fire part of the Mendocino Complex Fire

Australian and New Zealand fire crews help tackle California wildfire

The Holy Fire, which broke out on Monday in Holy Jim Canyon in Orange County southeast of Los Angeles, has already destroyed 12 structures and was only 5 percent contained as of Friday.

The state's largest wildfire in history has drawn a contingent to battle what is actually two fires burning so closely together that they're being attacked as one.

By around 4 p.m., Lugton said he could hear fire engines passing by about every two minutes.

As of Thursday morning, crews had contained an impressive 51 percent of the fire. Andy Edman, chief of the science technology infusion division at the National Weather Service, says small particles of smoke that come from the fires can stay in the air and move through the Earth's atmosphere - all the way to the East Coast.

"I've been trying for years to get someone to pay attention and nobody has really had the opportunity to do that until now", he said.

About 100 miles southwest of the Carr Fire, almost 4,000 firefighters are battling the Mendocino Complex Fire, which has burned 307,000 acres in three counties north of San Francisco, CalFire said.

Clark refused to leave his jail cell Thursday, so his arraignment was postponed until Friday.

But the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says Thursday it will still take several weeks to fully surround the massive wildfire in Northern California because it's burning in steep terrain that's hard to reach.

A firefighter keeps watch Thursday on the Holy Fire, which has ravaged the Cleveland National Forest in Lake Elsinore, Calif. Authorities say they believe Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, is the arsonist who set the forest ablaze.

The fire started several days ago near Holy Jim Canyon in Orange County, allegedly on goal by a local resident.

More than 1,000 firefighters, using 10 helicopters and seven additional aircraft, remain on the front lines battling the blaze, ABC Los Angeles station KABC-TV reported.

Earlier this week, the fire had threatened homes in Lake Elsinore and nearby communities.

"I was asleep, I had two earbuds in", he said.

He claimed during the interview that he was the target of threats from the MS-13 gang.

If convicted as charged, Clark faces life in prison.

The fires all grew explosively in the past two weeks as winds whipped the flames through forest and rural areas full of timber and brush that is bone-dry from years of drought and a summer of record-breaking heat.

Multiple news sources shared various numbers and data about the fires to help put the size into perspective.

The fires are so large they can be seen from space.

Schools have been closed in Menifee, Perris and Lake Elsinore. His wife, children and dog had evacuated as the bright orange flames from the Holy Fire swept through the canyon, sending ash and billowing black smoke into his neighborhood.

The arrest was made as more than a dozen blazes across the state continue to endanger the lives of thousands, including hundreds of firefighters and first responders working around the clock.

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