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The Holy Fire Is Burning Through Southern California and Forcing Evacuations. And It’s Only 2% Contained

3 minute read

While the Mendocino Complex fire became the biggest wildfire in California history, a new wildfire dubbed the “Holy Fire” is gaining traction and posing a threat to areas within Orange County and Riverside County.

The Holy Fire has already burned through 4,000 acres since it began at the Cleveland National Forest’s Trabuco Canyon, near Orange County, on Monday afternoon, has quickly spread to Riverside County and it remains only 2% contained, U.S. Forest Service officials said Tuesday afternoon. The fire has spread quickly because of high temperatures and the area’s steep terrain, according to the Cleveland National Forest. The cause of the blaze, which has shown no sign of slowing down as of Tuesday afternoon, is still under investigation.

Dry weather conditions made it possible for the fire to spread as quickly as it did, according to Luis Haynes, spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service, who added that the wildfire is being fueled by dry shrubs and grass.

“Were seeing the effects of the drought that California has experienced,” Haynes told TIME. “The lack of moisture makes it easier for wildfires to spread which is what were seeing all over the state.”

Six hundred personnel—including members of the U.S. Forest Service, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Orange County Fire Authority and Riverside County Fire Department—are currently working to put out the blaze, according to Cleveland National Forest. Two firefighters have suffered minor injuries.

U.S Forest Service said fire officials have dropped thousands of gallons of fire-retardant from helicopters and DC-10 air tankers, but have still not been able to stop the wildfire.

As of Tuesday afternoon, one home in Orange County has been evacuated and two structures have been damaged. Mandatory evacuations were ordered for nearby Blue Jay and El Cariso campgrounds.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory until Wednesday morning. Winds from the fire will come from the west and southwest on Tuesday before transitioning to a southern wind during the overnight hours, according to the air pollution control agency. The agency said overnight and early tomorrow morning, downslope winds may bring smoke into valleys west and southwest of the fire, possibly reaching parts of Orange County, Riverside County and San Bernardino County. The agency warned residents that if they smell smoke or see ash from a wildfire to limit exposure by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed or to seek alternate shelter.

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Write to Gina Martinez at gina.martinez@time.com