The Southern California wildfire that began as a small midmorning patch of flame next to Interstate 15 in the Cajon Pass had by Tuesday's end turned into a 28-square-mile monster that had burned an untold number of homes.
More than 82,000 people from over 34,000 homes were under evacuation orders, said Eric Sherwin of the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
Devouring ranchlands 60 miles east of Los Angeles, the blaze surged west to the Los Angeles County line and east to the Mojave Desert in the east.
The damages are likely to be vast and serious once they can be properly measured.
The staggering speed of the Southern California fire prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in the area within hours of it breaking out, a move that more often comes after a blaze has done several days of destruction.
Investigators in Northern California said Tuesday they had been building a case against the suspected arsonist, 40-year-old construction worker Damin Anthony Pashilk, for more than a year. But they did not have enough evidence to make an arrest until the weekend blaze ripped through Lower Lake and destroyed 175 homes and other structures in the working-class town.