California police arrested and charged a 51-year-old man for allegedly starting the Holy Fire that has forced 20,000 Californians to be evacuated from their homes.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas from Orange County, one of the areas most affected by the California wildfires, charged Forrest Gordon Clark with two counts of felony arson and held him on $1 million bail.
Mr Gordon Clark was further charged with criminal threats, and resisting and deterring the police.
According to Susan Schroeder of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, these charges could result in a life sentence.
Ms Schroeder told the press: «Arson is a terrible crime that destroys dreams.”
The Holy Fire that has been engulfing Southern California has been steadily growing since Monday destroying more than 10,236 acres of land as firefighters struggle to contain it.
Resident Carly Wagar told NBC Los Angeles: «It’s scary. It’s like doomsday almost. That’s what it reminds me of.»
Flames spread downhill toward Lake Elsinore on Thursday afternoon, threatening homes and prompting mandatory evacuation orders for homes fronting the mountains.
It’s like doomsday almost, that’s what it reminds me of
The Holy fire increased in size near the Horsethief Canyon area on Wednesday and then jumped the North Main Divide dirt road, burning into the Lake Elsinore area of Riverside County.
Lake Elsinore resident Sam Penueles said: «It just kind of hurts, knowing that everything we’ve had here, all the memories, might be washed away with the blink of an eye.»
The National Forest released a tweet detailing the efforts fire crews are going to in order to tackle the fires.
«Firefighters continue to battle the blaze around the clock,» the National Forest said in a tweet.
«We expect favorable weather conditions this weekend to help these efforts.»
Wildfire season in California has broken records this year, with the previous largest fire — Thomas Fire — being overtaken by the Mendocino Complex Fire.
The Mendocino Complex Fire has now grown larger than the city of Los Angeles, measuring at least 302,086 acres.
The huge size of the Mendocino fire has led to the announcement that fire crews will be unable to fully contain the blaze until early September.