Holy Fire 41 Percent Contained As Dry Heat Returns

LAKE ELSINORE (CNS) - The Holy Fire edged towards a retirement community wedged between the Santa Ana Mountains and Interstate 15 north of Lake Elsinore today, prompting new voluntary evacuation orders for 1,317 residential units in a retirement community.

 People living in the Trilogy Glen Ivy community were put on notice to leave, according to Cleveland National Forest fire commanders in a warning issued at noon. Residents of the development's single-family homes and condos who have trouble driving in the dark were advised to leave now in a message posted on the Trilogy Glen Ivy website.

 Firefighters had feared that hot, dry winds on the fire's northeastern flank would endanger homes north of Lake Elsinore and west of Interstate 15. The Holy Fire had blacked 22,714 acres and was 41 percent contained as of daybreak today.

Nearly 1,500 firefighters continued to battle the fire, which spread from Orange County's eastern mountains towards Santiago Peak, and over the mountains to the hills above Lake Elsinore.

 Early today, the U.S. Forest Service reduced its estimate of evacuated homes and structures to about 3,698. That left about 11,120 people evacuated.

 Evacuation orders were lifted for Sycamore Creek early today, which follows Saturday morning's repopulation of the Horsethief, McVicker and Rice areas.

 In addition to the voluntary evacuation of the Trilogy subdivision in Riverside County, mandatory evacuation orders were still in place for Glen Eden, El Cariso Village and Rancho Capistrano, along with the Ortega (74) Highway corridor from the Lookout restaurant to the Nichols Institute.

 In Orange County today, Trabuco and Holy Jim canyons remained under mandatory evacuation orders, and all campgrounds in the Trabuco Ranger District were closed. Back country fire roads were closed to hiking and bicycling, including Trabuco Creek, Maple Springs, North Main Divide, Bedford and Indian Truck Trail.

 Two real estate developments in Orange County, on the western flank of the fire, are also named Trilogy, and their evacuation status was not changed today.

 Fourteen structures were confirmed lost, primarily in Big Jim Canyon, a cluster of homes and cabins above Rancho Santa Margarita. Damages assessment continued.

 The Orange County Fire Authority and other agencies sent more than 100 personnel into the fire fight including two water-dropping helicopters, two bulldozers, 11 engines, five patrols and numerous hand crews to aid the firefighting effort, officials said Saturday.

 The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory for portions of Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, as haze spread from the fire spread from Oxnard to Palm Springs. Ash fell on cars Saturday at the beaches of Los Angeles County.

 The fire was initially reported at 1:15 p.m. Monday near Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Creek roads, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito said. The fire dramatically increased in size near the Horsethief Canyon area on Wednesday, then jumped the North Main Divide dirt road, burning into the Lake Elsinore area of Riverside County, Bommarito said.

 Bommarito noted that the area probably hasn't burned since the early 1980s.

 Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, remained jailed today on a $1 million bail, an amount he scoffed at during an animated appearance in a Santa Ana courtroom Friday. He labeled the arson charges against him a ``lie” and insisted he was being threatened.

 When a court commissioner ordered his bail to remain at $1 million, Clark said he could easily afford it and asked whether he could pay it right away.

 Clark was charged with aggravated arson damaging at least five inhabited structures, arson of inhabited property, arson of forest and criminal threats, all felonies, as well as two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest.

 His arraignment was delayed until Aug. 17, and Clark could face 10 years to life in prison.

 Residents seeking information on the Holy Fire may call (714) 573- 6200, or register at rivcoready.org for text updates.

Photo: Getty Images

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