IDYLLWILD, California – A fast-moving fire – presumably triggered by arson – ripped through trees, burning down five houses and enforcing evacuation orders for a whole forest town as California smoldered under a heatwave and fought wild fires at both Ends of the state.
The so-called Cranston Fire, which broke out Wednesday in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles, turned into a wall of flames blazing wood and shrubbery. Within a few hours, it grew to 19 square kilometers (19 square kilometers).
It threatened an estimated 600 houses, the authorities said.
The fire was the largest of at least five, of which the police believed it was Wednesday, by a man whose car was reportedly seen at the starting point of the fire in Riverside County, the official said intentionally
Brandon N. McGlover, 32, of Temecula was charged with allegations of arson of five charges. It was not clear if he had a lawyer.
Authorities ordered residents to leave Idyllwild and several neighboring communities, which are home to about 12,000 people.
William Blodgett of Idyllwild said he had to wait because of the fire and had to wait with others at a gas station in the nearby Mountain Center – until the fire hopped on a highway and moved in his direction.
"We peeled off as soon as possible," he told KNBC-TV. "It was apocalyptic."
Horses and other animals were brought to shelters, as were several hundred children evacuated from summer camps. About 200 were at a local high school that served as a shelter, KCAL-TV reported.
The fire in the San Bernardino National Forest sent a 50,000-foot-high cloud that was so powerful that it generated its own weather in the form of lightning, the National Weather Service announced.
Throughout the day, helicopters and planes spent water and fire-retardant agents turning pink land and houses. Fire trucks were also stationed to protect homes.
The fire is one of several California in a heatwave that has seen days of triple-digit temperatures.
In the north, in the San Francisco Bay Area, at least In Clayton, a house burned with houses spreading on winding roads.
The Yosemite Valley, the scenic heart of the National Park, was closed at midday on Wednesdays during the high season, when the smoke entered the area from a fire in the Sierra Nevada. The closure was heartbreaking for travelers, many of whom planned their trips months in advance to climb in the midst of spectacular views of waterfalls and steep cliffs.
"We had a guest who was planning a week-long trip," said Tom Lambert, who owns a vacation rental near Yosemite Valley. "It was a father-daughter trip, for her high school degree … Now it's done, it's sad." Another guest had to delay the plans for the Half Dome.
Officials emphasized that Yosemite was not in immediate danger from the fire. The authorities decided to shut down the crew to allow crew members to take protective measures such as driving away from the streets without having to deal with the traffic in the park, which welcomes 4 million visitors a year.
The Yosemite Valley is closed until at least Sunday, a windy, mountainous 32-kilometer stretch of California State Route 41 that leads into the area, said Gediman
At least 1,000 campsite and hotel bookings have been canceled – not to mention the Impact on day visitors Parker and small businesses along the highway, said Gediman.
The last time the 12 kilometer-long 12-kilometer valley was closed due to fire was in 1990.
For nearly two weeks, flames through 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) of wood in steep terrain of the Sierra Nevada have just west of the park. The fire was only 25 percent contained.
More than 3,300 firefighters work with 16 helicopters by the fire. One firefighter was killed on July 14 and six others were injured.
In the extreme north of the country, an 18-square-kilometer wildfoundation has forced the evacuation of French Gulch, a small community in Shasta County, dated to the Gold Rush.
reported Noah Berger of Yosemite; Chris Weber from Los Angeles. AP reporters Robert Jablon, Michael Balsamo and John Antczak contributed to Los Angeles.
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