Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Wildfire suspect arrested after threatening 'this place will burn'

Australian and New Zealand fire crews help tackle California wildfire 'This place will burn,' says text allegedly sent by man arrested in connection with California fire
Charlie Simmons | 11 August, 2018, 19:08

A 51-year-old man who is accused of making the threat, "This place will burn", for over three years has been arrested and charged with starting the so-called "Holy Fire", causing almost 10,000 acres to burn and 20,000 people to be placed under evacuation orders at Cleveland National Forest in Southern California.

The Holy Fire, which broke out on Monday in Holy Jim Canyon in Orange County southeast of Los Angeles, has already destroyed 12 structures and was only 5 percent contained as of Friday.

A state of emergency has been declared for Orange and Riverside counties because the fire threatened thousands of homes.

Flames are creeping down hillsides toward homes in the city of Lake Elsinore, where crews are prepared to provide structure protection. That fire has lasted more than three weeks and killed two people.

Because of such extreme conditions early on, officials and experts warn that California could be facing its toughest wildfire season yet, with the historically worst months still to come.

That could become a real possibility, as the fires in California aren't very well contained at the moment and may continue to burn for a considerable amount of time.

Forrest Gordon Clark, who local authorities have arrested and charged with two counts of felony arson and felony threatening to terrorize, spread a series of alt-right conspiracies on his personal Facebook page.

He added: "I woke up and my stuff was all on fire", he said.

According to the National Weather Service, smoke from the fires has actually made it's way across the country - all the way to the East Coast.

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Meanwhile, a man charged with starting the fire refused to go to court Thursday.

Fire chiefs were this morning building barriers and constructing containment lines to slow down the approaching wildfire.

Clark was arrested this week on suspicion of setting off the blaze after he allegedly sent a text to a volunteer fire chief two weeks ago saying, "The place is going to burn". Officials are wary that the fire could threaten more homes if the wind were to change direction or the fire were to branch into drainage basins.

"I was asleep, I had two earbuds in", he said. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

Aircraft have been making flight after flight, dumping water and bright pink retardant to protect Lake Elsinore and other foothill communities as the fire sweeps through the dense, bone-dry brush of the Cleveland National Forest.

A U.S. Forest Service spokesman said more than a dozen cabins in Clark's neighborhood had burned.

For now, in Orange and Riverside counties, the focus remains on the Holy Fire.

Martin Lovrin, a Mendocino Complex Fire evacuee, rests at a makeshift shelter on Wednesday in Clearlake, California.

The third largest is the Ferguson Fire, near Yosemite National Park, incinerating more than 95,000 acres.

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