Holy Fire containment rises to 36 percent; some evacuations lifted

Sunday, August 12, 2018
Holy Fire containment rises to 36 percent; 22,158 acres burned
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Fire officials announced that containment of the massive Holy Fire has more than tripled from 10 percent to 36 percent.

TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. (KABC) -- Fire officials on Saturday announced that containment of the massive Holy Fire has more than tripled from 10 percent to 36 percent, offering a glimmer of hope to residents of Riverside and Orange counties even as thousands of homes remained threatened.

The wildfire's acreage inched upward to 22,158 with more than 1,500 firefighters on the front lines of the inferno in the Cleveland National Forest.

As the fire entered its sixth day, helicopters and airplanes continued to drop fire retardant on flames burning in otherwise inaccessible terrain. In some neighborhoods, entire blocks were covered with red Phos-Chek.

WATCH: Time-lapse footage shows Holy Fire's progression

The U.S. Forest Service lifted evacuations for the areas of Horsethief Canyon in Corona, and McVicker and Rice canyons in Lake Elsinore. Cleveland National Forest officials lifted mandatory evacuations for the Machado community and voluntary evacuations for the Shoreline community. Still, approximately 2,700 properties remain threatened and 7,000 are under a mandatory evacuation order.

RELATED: Lake Elsinore residents thank firefighters for saving their homes from Holy Fire

More than 21,400 people were originally under evacuation orders, though many in Lake Elsinore and other areas remained behind in an effort to defend their homes. Others fled to safety.

"Worst case scenario -- we would lose our home that we just moved in to," said Sycamore Creek resident Denise Artukovich. "So we grabbed the hard drive on the computer -- because pictures are irreplaceable -- and grabbed the kids and the dog."

RELATED: Glen Ivy Hot Springs Spa employees fear they may not have work to return to after Holy Fire

At Temescal Valley Elementary School, officials from multiple agencies scheduled to discuss firefighting efforts and services available to affected residents.

"We promise you and my commitment to you is that as soon as we feel it is safe from any additional fire activity, we will give you back your homes, and we're actively doing that for all of our communities. We're constantly assessing that," a Cal Fire official told community members.

Fire officials also confirmed what many residents already know: Hundreds of firefighters on the front lines have saved their community.

"This morning, they had a total aerial bombardment. There were planes and helicopters just all morning, flying over it and hitting it pretty good, so compared to yesterday and a few days before, you couldn't see anything, but today it's a lot clearer," said resident Mike Merryman.

During the meeting, authorities instructed neighbors to wear surgical masks and limit time outdoors due to the smoke and ash.

In the six days since flames erupted, there's only been one report of a burglar in evacuation areas, and police have made an arrest.

Gaining control of the flames is still the biggest concern, since the fire has delayed the start of school for many schools in the Corona-Norco Unified School District.

Mandatory evacuations:

-Mountain Street at Avocado Way in the McVicker Canyon community where the pavement ends.

- El Cariso, Rancho Capistrano, Blue Jay, Indian Canyon, Glen Eden, Sycamore Creek and Mayhew Canyon.

- All homes on the mountainside of Lake Street and southwest of Grand Avenue to Ortega Highway.

A care and reception center is available at Temescal Canyon High School, 28755 El Toro Rd Lake Elsinore CA 92532 for residents. There is also an evacuation center at the San Juan Hills High School, located at 29211 Stallion Ridge, San Juan Capistrano.

Voluntary evacuation warnings:

- Highway 74 (Ortega Highway) west from Lookout Restaurant to Nichols Institute and all connecting roads in the communities of Rancho Capistrano, El Cariso Village and Blue Jay. Residents are advised to exit west to Orange County to avoid fire equipment coming up on the Elsinore side.

Road closures remain in place at De Palma Road between Horsethief Canyon and Indian Truck Trail, along with Campbell Road at Temescal Canyon.

School closures:

-Corona-Norco Unified School District schools include: Corona High, Centennial High, Santiago High, Pollard High, Orange Grove High, Citrus Hills Intermediate, Corona Fundamental Intermediate, El Cerrito Middle Raney Intermediate, Home Gardens Academy, Todd Academy, Susan B. Anthony, Eisenhower Elementary, Foothill Elementary, Franklin Elementary, Garretson Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, Lincoln Fundamental Orange Elementary, Stallings Elementary, Temescal Valley Elementary, Vicentia Elementary and Wilson Elementary.

-Lake Elsinore Unified School District Schools include: Luiseno School, Rice Canyon Elementary, Terra Cota Middle School and Withrow Elementary. District officials said they will be closed until Aug. 20.

The fire has been burning since Monday, when it was first reported around 1:30 p.m. near Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Creek roads - across the main divide between Orange and Riverside counties.