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Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Orange and Riverside counties due to the effects of the Holy Fire, allowing the state Office of Emergency Services to provide assistance to the counties. "I turned to him and said, 'Let's go, '" Pritchett said.

The steep terrain was making it hard for fire engines to get to some of the flames, so the major weapons against the blaze are the aerial water drops, officials said. "Hopefully I have a house in the morning".

Firefighters aided by cooler weather have made good progress against a blaze burning for almost a month near Yosemite National Park in the northern part of the state.

The second largest is the Carr Fire, which has burned more than 176,000 acres, and has killed seven people and destroyed more than 1,000 homes.

"In their latest update 7am, local time (3pm BST) the Cleveland National Forest tweeted: "#Holyfire New Fire numbers this morning: "21,473 acres with 29% containment!" The park was set to reopen Tuesday after a two-week closure, park spokesperson Scott Gediman said.

The blaze did not reach the heart of the park and instead burned in remote areas, making roads inaccessible and polluting the area with smoke.

According to state fire officials, California's fire expenses have more than trebled from $242m in 2013 to $773m in the 2018 fiscal year ending on 30 June. Despite mandatory evacuation orders, Castro stayed behind to protect his Lake Elsinore home from looters, he said.

Hundreds of firefighters were involved in the operation to control the fire in the Santa Ana mountains on Friday, building barriers and establishing containment lines.

The victim, described as a heavy equipment mechanic, died in a crash on Highway 99, Cal Fire said in a statement.

"It is nerve-wracking and unreal", she said.

Forrest Clark, 51, made several outbursts, claiming his life was being threatened and saying the arson charge against him was a lie.

The man accused of deliberately starting the fire appeared in court on Friday, but his arraignment was postponed. A court commissioner ordered his bail to remain at $1 million. At one point Clark covered his face with his long hair and later he stared directly at a camera providing a feed to reporters outside the courtroom.

The fire has been burning in the Holy Jim and Trabuco canyons near the Orange and Riverside County border since Monday afternoon.

If convicted, Clark could face 10 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors say Clark started the fire, which is only five percent contained, with the intention of causing damage to others and burning a forest. Firefighters were trying to keep flames away from Santiago Peak, where critical communication infrastructure is located.

More than 600,000 acres across the state have been consumed by this year's fire season, which experts warn is growing longer each year.

The Mendocino Complex fire has been declared the largest in state history and has already engulfed 290,692 acres.

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.

Air quality in the Victor Valley continues to remain extremely poor and has gotten even worse as of Thursday night at about 8:00 pm. A smoky haze stretches from the foothills of the Sierra Nevada range to Sacramento and hovers over the San Francisco Bay Area, with most major population centers in between enduring air quality that's considered risky for many residents. Last month, he was placed on a psychiatric hold.


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