Australian and New Zealand fire crews help tackle California wildfire

A firefighter lights a backfire while battling the Ranch Fire part of the Mendocino Complex Fire on Tuesday Aug. 7 2018 near Ladoga Calif

Crews turned a corner in their battle against a Northern California fire and achieved 51 percent containment of the Mendocino Complex - actually twin fires that are being fought together. He also faces sentencing enhancements for arson of multiple structures.

Although the neighborhood is under an evacuation order, the 38-year-old Rodriguez told the San Bernardino Sun that he made a decision to stay to help save his home.

Holy Jim Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Milligan, 71, says he's known the arson suspect, Forrest Gordon Clark, for decades and has long warned that he posed a danger to the community. "I got burned. I woke up and my stuff was all on fire".

He said a line of fire retardant dropped on the hill above his house has so far checked the fire's advance, along with helicopter water drops.

The Holy Fire, which broke out on Monday in Holy Jim Canyon in Orange County southeast of Los Angeles, has already destroyed 12 structures and was only 5 percent contained as of Friday.

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"Until this thing is barking at my door, I'm going to stick with it", he told the San Bernardino Sun. Smoke from the western wildfires has reached the East Coast and beyond, the National Weather Service has said.

Spectacular footage captured at the scene of a California wildfire has laid bare the scale of the Holy fire disaster as well as the size of the operation being mounted to combat it.

Forrest Gordon Clark, 51, allegedly wrote to a fire chief two weeks ago, CNN reported.

Clark is being held at the Orange County Jail on $1 million bail and is expected to make a court appearance Friday.

At one point Tuesday, Clark stripped naked as investigators questioned him about the fire and a Register photographer snapped pictures.

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Milligan said he did not know what he meant, adding that Clark sent emails to other people in which he talked about burning something. But he did skewer "radical environmentalists" for opposing forest management efforts, which include tactics like prescribed burns, forest thinning and logging to clear overgrown forests of excess vegetation and dead trees.

About 350 residents were under mandatory evacuation orders because of the Hat Fire, which began Thursday near a highway.

The fires all grew explosively in the past two weeks as winds whipped the flames through forest and rural areas full of timber and brush that is bone-dry from years of drought and a summer of record-breaking heat.

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer had harsh words for Clark, saying that if he is convicted he "needs to suffer the fullest punishment of the law".

The fire is burning through steep, mountainous terrain filled with dried-out shrubs that are ideal fuel for the blaze.

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