Amid evacuations, Apple Fire doubles in size to more than 6 square miles in Cherry Valley area

by 24USATVAug. 2, 2020, 1 a.m. 20
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The Apple Fire in the Cherry Valley area doubled in size Saturday afternoon, exploding to more than 6 square miles while remaining 0% contained, according to local fire officials.

Authorities issued additional evacuation orders in the Riverside County community after the brush fire erupted the previous evening, scorching about 1,900 acres and destroying at least one home and two other structures by Saturday morning.

However, the wildfire scorched through another more than 2,000 acres by the time officials issued another update .at 3:11 p.m. By that time, officials said the Apple Fire had burned through 4,125 acres, or more than 6 square miles.

Officials ordered about 1,000 people to flee as flames charred backyards on Friday, running between and around residences, Cal Fire told the Los Angeles Times.

Mandatory evacuation orders for the following areas are effective Saturday:
• north of Cherry Boulevard, west of Highland Springs, east of Beaumont Avenue
• Potato Canyon area west to Raywood Flat (an earlier county tweet mistakenly said Raymond Flat)
• north of Wilson Street, east of Sunset Avenue, west of Hathaway Street

Officials have set up an evacuation center for residents and their animals at Beaumont High School.

Residents can enter their address on the county website to see if they’re under any orders and visit rivcoready.org to sign up for alerts.

The Sheriff Department’s Cabazon station also announced the following road closures effective indefinitely:

Traffic in those streets will be limited to emergency vehicles, utility providers and media personnel, officials said.

Residents with family members who have been left behind and need transportation or medical assistance can contact the Sheriff’s Department at 951-776-1099 (select option 5), or if it’s an emergency, call 911.

They can call Riverside County Animal Control at 951-358-7387 for animal evacuations. The Sheriff’s Department urged people who have left behind necessary medication to call their local hospital for help.

The blaze, dubbed the Apple Fire, remains 0% contained. Cal Fire has not reported any injuries, but it appeared at least one home and two structures were destroyed.

The burning area of the San Bernardino National Forest had not burned in a long time, said Bill, who has lived in the community for 41 years.

“Even though we’ve had fires in the past, it’s been a number of years,” Bill said. “So there’s a lot of heavy fuel out there. It’s dry, it was 106 degrees yesterday—perfect conditions for something to really get going, and that’s what happened.”

Officials from Cal Fire and the Sheriff’s Department knocked on the doors of residents, many of them retired and elderly, asking them to leave, Bill told KTLA.

The fire was burning early Saturday toward Banning Bench, where many ranches are located, Bill said.

Cal Fire Capt. Rich Cordova said the agency has dispatched 30 engines to that community as flames threatened about 200 homes. Firefighters expect challenging conditions, with high temperatures and low humidities in Saturday’s forecast.

The vegetation fire started around 5 p.m. in three different spots along Oak Glen Road, Cordova said. Flames could have been ignited by a trailer dragging a chain or even an arsonist, he said, but investigators are still working to determine the cause.

Some 375 firefighters and an aerial unit responded to the blaze.

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