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Raging Holy Fire continues to grow on fifth day

CORONA, Calif. -- Firefighters continued to make progress on the raging Holy Fire Saturday, lifting some evacuations on the devastating wildfire that officials have deemed an arson.

The latest numbers released by Cleveland National Forest Sunday indicated the fire was at 22,158  acres and was 36-percent contained -- marking yet another increase in size but also indicating significant progress from the reported 10-percent containment Friday night.

Although it's not the largest burning in the state, the Holy Fire has raised concerns about its effect on residential communities, including Lake Elsinore. Some communities in Riverside County are under mandatory evacuation orders affecting about 7,500 residential structures, according to authorities.

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer said the man suspected of starting the blaze "needs to suffer the fullest punishment of the law."

"We know this district burns, but it should never burn because of an intentional act. This shouldn't be called the Holy Jim fire, it should be called the Holy Hell fire," he said, referring to an area known as Holy Jim Canyon.

On Saturday, authorities lifted evacuation orders for Horsethief, McVicker and Rice canyon communities, KTLA reported.

But other orders remained in place, and fire officials warned residents to heed evacuation orders.

"Even if you're miles away, you want to be prepared if you're near the fire area or in an environment that can burn," said Thanh Nguyen with the SoCal Team One Fire Management Team, who suggested having a packed bag ready to go.

'It's a lie!'

The man accused of setting the Holy Fire appeared in court Friday, declaring, "It's all a lie!" as a judge read the charges against him.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, did not enter a plea during the brief appearance in an Orange County courtroom. When the judge explained the process further to him, Clark said, "I comprehend. I do not understand though."

Clark was charged Thursday with aggravated arson and criminal threats, among other offenses.

He is due back in court August 17 for arraignment and bail review.

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