A fast-moving wildfire—believed to have been sparked by arson—tore through trees, burned five homes, and forced evacuation orders for an entire forest town as California sweltered under a heat wave and battled ferocious fires at both ends of the state. The so-called Cranston Fire, which erupted Wednesday in the San Jacinto Mountains east of Los Angeles, turned into a wall of flame that torched timber and tinder-dry brush. In a matter of hours it grew to 7.5 square miles, threatening an estimated 600 homes and forcing the evacuation of Idyllwild, authorities say.
The fire was the largest of at least five that police believe were purposely set Wednesday by a man whose car was reportedly spotted at the starting point of the blaze, the AP reports. Brandon N. McGlover, 32, of Temecula was booked on suspicion of five counts of arson, state fire officials say. Authorities ordered residents to leave Idyllwild and several neighboring communities, home to about 12,000 people. William Blodgett of Idyllwild says he couldn't get home because of the fire and had to wait along with others at a gas station—until the fire hopped a highway and began to move in his direction. "We were all peeling out of there as fast as we could," he tells KNBC. "It was apocalyptic."
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