August 8, 2020

Apple Fire Leads to Evacuation Order for 7,000 in California

Firefighters on Sunday morning were struggling to control a wildfire 75 miles east of Los Angeles that had burned more than 20,000 acres and destroyed three structures.

The wildfire started on Friday afternoon in Cherry Valley, Calif., southwest of the San Bernardino National Forest, and by Sunday had spread across 20,516 acres, the national forest said on Twitter. The fire was 0 percent contained as of 10 a.m. local time, it said.

About 7,000 residents in parts of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties were ordered to evacuate, said Cpl. Lionel Murphy, a spokesman for the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. He said he had not heard of any deaths or injuries caused by the fire.

The fire started as two separate fires that merged, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. The blaze destroyed one single-family home and two outbuildings, the Fire Department said.

The northern and eastern edges of the fire were in “very steep, rugged hillsides” that were not accessible to firefighting vehicles, according to the U.S. Forest Service, which was brought in to help fight the fire.

Helicopters and air tankers were used to slow the spread of the fire, the Forest Service said.

ImageA 747 Supertanker dropped fire retardant along a ridge ahead of the Apple Fire on Saturday.
Credit…Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Hot and dry conditions on Sunday further complicated efforts to quell the fire.

A spokeswoman for the Riverside County Fire Department said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was trying to determine what caused the blaze.

An evacuation center was set up at a high school in Beaumont, Calif., and an emergency management official said coronavirus precautions were in place at the school.

The Red Cross also provided hotel lodging to 32 evacuees on Saturday evening, a spokeswoman said.

The San Gorgonio Wilderness, part of the San Bernardino National Forest, was closed on Saturday and an emergency order was issued on Sunday banning entry to the area.