TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. - A blaze that prompted evacuation orders in two Orange County communities continued to scorch thousands of acres in the Cleveland National Forest for a third day on Wednesday.
Officials also announced they had arrested a man suspected of lighting the blaze. Police say arson suspect 51-year-old Forrest Gordon Clark had sent threatening emails to a volunteer fire chief in the area, claiming "this place will burn," a short time before the fire broke out.
The Holy Fire quickly spread after erupting on Monday afternoon near the Riverside County line, forcing evacuations in Trabuco and Holy Jim canyons, KTLA reported.
The flames have grown in the Horsethief Canyon area by Wednesday morning, burning about 4,129 acres, or 6.4 square miles, forest officials said. The fire was last estimated to be 5 percent contained.
Officials issued evacuation orders for the Blue Jay and Falcon Group campgrounds as well.
Unhealthy air quality could affect residents across Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, with a smoke advisory in effect through Wednesday morning.
Authorities expected the fire to continue spreading southeast and north, InciWeb said.
Crews have been battling the flames amid triple digit temperatures, but Tuesday evening's update indicated that conditions could improve with slight cooling and some increase in humidity.
The area had not burned in about 40 years, according to a U.S. Forest Service spokesperson. At least one structure has been destroyed, the agency said Tuesday morning.
Nearly 400 personnel were responding to the blaze. The cause of the fire remained under investigation.