Apple Fire in Riverside County, California: Thousands to evacuate

 eu.usatoday.com  08/02/2020 01:38:44   Shane Newell, Brian Blueskye and Maria Sestito

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. Firefighters continuedSaturday to battle the Apple Fire, a wildfire northwest of Palm Springs which began Fridayas smaller fires that merged in Cherry Valley, an unincorporated areain Riverside County.

The fire hassince destroyed three structures, prompted thousands to evacuate about 2,600 residencesand scorched about 12,000 acresinCherry Valley, located in Riverside County.

About 7,800 people have been ordered to leave their homes as of Saturday afternoon, as375 firefighters with fiveair tankers, four helicopters and three bulldozers continued to fight to control the wildfire, which had grown tomore than18 square miles,authorities said.

No injuries have been reported.

The Apple Fire began shortly before 5 p.m.Friday as "at least" two fires burning near each other in the 9000 block of Oak Glen Road in the unincorporated community of Cherry Valley, a few miles north of Beaumont, Cal Fire said.

Since its start, the fire's progress has been pretty much unchecked.

BySaturday afternoon,Cal Fire Capt. Fernando Herrera said that despite gaining some ground firefighters still had no containment.

Triple-digit temperatures, low humidity, a slight breeze and thick vegetation are feeding the flames, Herrera said, adding that the only fire breaks in the area are roads and natural barriers.

Officials reportedone single-family home and two outbuildings near Avenida Miravilla have been destroyed.

Officials said that in addition to the blaze, they are also mindful of protecting evacuees from the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the evacuation center is being used as more of a check-in point rather than an actual shelter.

On Friday, accordingto John Medina, shelter supervisor with the American Red Cross, because of the pandemicshelter operations were kept outdoors.

Evacuees were asked to stay in their vehicles as volunteers checked them in, provided them with water and food and then sentthem to a hotel room.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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