LAKE ELSINORE, CA – More than 20,000 people are forced from their homes in Southern California by a dangerous arson wildfire that intensified overnight. The so-called Holy Fire has burned 10,000 acres in Orange and Riverside counties, and it’s only 5 percent contained.
Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for the two counties. Friday morning, crews were battling 12 large fires in the state. Ten people have died, and two firefighters were injured on Thursday.
Some residents sprayed down their homes and were forced to evacuate overnight as the flames closed in, reports CBS News’ Jonathan Vigliotti. Hundreds of firefighters are battling the fast-moving fire that is threatening thousands of homes, as dozens of planes attack the flames from the air.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Tim Chavez says firefighters have a long battle ahead and expects the fire to grow.
"The homes are really in danger, otherwise we would not pull the evacuation trigger," he said.
But some residents have decided to ignore evacuation orders and stay behind.
"It’s my house, my capitol, my kingdom, I don’t want to just leave it," said resident Belal Abdullah. "We have a lot of helicopters, a lot of support here."
Forrest Clark, the man who allegedly started the Holy Fire, pushed back against the claims before he was arrested.
"I was asleep, I had two earbuds in," he said.
"I’m pissed, I’m outraged, I’m disgusted," said Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson. "I want people to understand that one man caused this devastation for no apparent reason."
She’s urging anyone who stayed behind to evacuate.
"Nothing is worth it. Grab your things, grab your family, grab your valuables, and move. Everything else is replaceable but your life is not," Johnson said.
Clark has been charged with three counts of arson, resisting arrest, and deterring an executive officer. His court hearing was supposed to be on Thursday, but he refused to leave his jail cell. He is now expected to appear in court Friday and is facing life in prison if convicted.
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