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Flames inch close to California homes as thousands evacuate

AP  |  Los Angeles 

An intentionally set grew perilously close to homes in yesterday as evacuation orders expanded to more than 20,000 residents, though some homeowners stayed behind to fend off the flames themselves.

Firefighters fought a desperate battle to stop the Holy Fire from reaching homes as the blaze surged through the National Forest above the city of and its surrounding communities. They were trying to keep the flames from devouring neighborhoods and taking lives, as gigantic fires still burning in have done.

"Our main focus this afternoon was getting everyone out safely," said Thanh Nguyen, a for the fire crews.

As flames raged closer, some residents stood in driveways or on top of roofs and used garden hoses to keep their homes wet and to fight the flames as smoke billowed around them. was using a power washer to wet down his patio in the McVicker Canyon Park neighborhood yesterday morning.

Although the neighborhood is under an evacuation order, the 38-year-old Rodriguez told the San Bernardino Sun that he decided to stay to help save his home.

"Until this thing is barking at my door, I'm going to stick with it," he said.

He said a line of fire retardant dropped on the hill above his house has so far checked the fire's advance, along with helicopter water drops.

Rodriguez's wife and two daughters evacuated.

Fire crews worked in 100-plus-degree (38 Celsius) heat. Aircraft dumped bright pink lines of fire retardant to wall off the fire from homes. The 15-square-mile (39-sq. kilometer)blaze was only 5 percent contained.

The fire is named for Holy Jim Canyon, where it erupted Monday and burned a dozen cabins.

A resident of the canyon, 51-year-old Forrest Gordon Clark, was charged Thursday with arson and other crimes that could send him to prison for life.

Clark refused to go to court Thursday and his arraignment was postponed to Friday. It's unclear whether he has an

Winds gusting to nearly 20 mph (32 kph) at times drove the fire through dense chaparral on the foothill slopes and along ridgetops, sending up an enormous column of smoke that smeared the sky for miles around.

The fire threatened communities near the inland resort of in Riverside County, about 70 miles (113 kilometers) southeast of

Hot, dry weather, gusty winds and tinder-dry vegetation are the same conditions that caused wildfires in to explode into deadly conflagrations in the space of two weeks. North of San Francisco, fire crews continued progress in corralling the twin fires known as the Since starting on July 27, the fires - which are being fought together as a single incident - have destroyed more than 100 homes near and become the largest fire in recorded state history.

The area burned by the blaze is now larger than the cities of The fires were 51 percent contained.

In the Redding area, the year's deadliest fire was nearly half surrounded and was burning into remote and rugged forest land but grass, brush and trees there are so dry from years of drought and recent heat that the potential remained for the fire to grow, state fire officials said. The Carr Fire, as it's called, killed six people, including two firefighters, and burned more than 1,000 homes. Two other people - a assigned to the fire and a trying to restore power near the fire- have died in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, August 10 2018. 07:10 IST