Fueled by thick, tinder-dry vegetation that hasn’t burned in nearly four decades, a brush fire raced through the Cleveland National Forest in the Holy Jim Canyon area amid triple-digit heat, rapidly exploding in size as flames gobbled up acreage as it moved toward Riverside County.
The blaze was reported around 1:15 p.m., initially near Holy Jim Canyon and Trabuco Creek roads. Initially reported at seven- to 10-acres, the fire raced its way across about 75 acres within about 30 minutes. As of mid-afternoon, the fire had already scorched more than 700 acres.
The fire, burning amid triple-digit temperatures but minimal wind, sent up a massive cloud of smoke that could be seen for miles in all directions.
Although it began in Orange County, the blaze was spreading in the direction of Riverside County.
At least one structure was consumed by the flames.
Precautionary evacuation orders were issued for the sparsely populated Holy Jim community and Trabuco Canyon area, home to dozens of cabins. No evacuation center was immediately established.
No injuries were reported.
Roughly a dozen water-dropping aircraft were being used to help control the blaze, with the U.S. Forest Service taking the lead in coordinating efforts to douse the blaze.
Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Tony Bommarito told ABC7 the fire is burning in “medium to heavy brush that hasn’t been burned for almost 40 years.”
He estimated the area had not burned since about 1980.