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Man suspected of sparking huge California forest fire facing life in jail

Man suspected of sparking huge California forest fire facing life in jail

A man has been arrested in connection with the fire that is wreaking havoc near the border between Orange and Riverside counties, which are among the most populous counties in California.

The year's deadliest fire, in the Redding area south of the OR border, grew to more than 180,000 acres but reached 53 percent containment as of Friday, forestry and fire protection officials said, according to the Redding Record Searchlight. The state's firefighting agency employs 5,300 full-time firefighters and hires an additional 1,700 each fire season. The 51-year-old state health inspector congratulated the couple and left quietly for her house in the city of Lake Elsinore to grab important documents.

Incredible photos show apocalyptic scenes as firefighters try to battle the blaze.

But they are hopeful that weather conditions will improve when temperatures fall over the weekend.

The fire near Lake Elsinore is devouring brushy foothills, ridgetops and canyons.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, the man who allegedly started the fire, was charged Thursday with aggravated arson and criminal threats, among other offenses.

CBSLA noted that Clark - who has been linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory as well as other alt-right claims - called the arson charges against him "lies" before claiming that he could "easily" pay his $1 million bond. If found guilty, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

"Arson is a awful crime that destroys dreams", she said in a press conference.

A Cal Fire heavy equipment mechanic who was helping fight the Carr Fire was killed in a auto accident, authorities say.

Michael Milligan, chief of the Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Department, has told the Orange County Register that Clark had a decade-long feud with neighbours and sent him threatening emails last week, including one that said, "this place will burn".

Before his arrest, Clark told a reporter he had been asleep at the time and had nothing to with the fire.

Fire crews worked in 100-plus-degree (38 Celsius) heat.

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"This is a monster", Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer said at a news conference Wednesday.

Zinke, a former Republican congressman from Montana, is making his second trip to California to survey fire damage this summer.

Residents are scared and fleeing their homes, he said.

"They're leaving property behind, they're putting everything they can in the back of their cars as quickly as possible".

Teresita Reyes was among some 20,000 people under evacuation orders, saying she was attending a wedding Wednesday when she received the order to evacuate.

Eric Lint, a neighbor of Clark whose cabin burned in the blaze, said he was not surprised by Clark's arrest.

In addition to the Holy Fire, firefighters in California are battling 15 large blazes.

Holy fire is the just the latest wildfire to tear across California, along with the massive Mendocino Complex fire which had grown to around 300,000 acres by Monday evening.

Fire crews are working in 38C heat and three firefighters have been injured in the 16-square-mile blaze.

And near the Northern California city of Redding, the year's deadliest fire was almost half surrounded and was burning into remote and rugged forest land.

The Mendocino Complex, made of two separate blazes, has been declared the most destructive fire in the state's history.