Apple Fire spreads to 12,000 acres in Riverside County, destroys 1 home as evacuation orders remain in place

Sunday, August 2, 2020
Apple Fire spreads to 12,000 acres in Riverside County
A wildfire in the Cherry Valley area of Riverside County remained 0% contained after spreading to 12,000 acres and prompting mandatory evacuation orders.

CHERRY VALLEY, Calif. (KABC) -- A wildfire in the Cherry Valley area of Riverside County remained 0% contained on Saturday afternoon after exploding to 12,000 acres and prompting mandatory evacuation orders, officials said.

At least one home and two outbuildings were destroyed by the Apple Fire, which began shortly before 5 p.m. Friday near Oak Glen Road and Apple Tree Lane. No injuries have been reported.

Responding firefighters in the air and on the ground attacked the flames in an effort to protect homes that were threatened, performing water drops from helicopters and establishing fire lines.

Steep and rugged terrain made it difficult for crews on the ground to access the front lines. High temperatures and low humidity levels fueled the flames, which were scorching the brush that hadn't burned in years.

"Lots of oils in, so when it's going up these canyons, it's creating all that heat because of those oils and those fuels," said Cal Fire Capt. Richard Cordova. And what you'll see is these big plumes of smoke going up, especially the darker (ones), and once it gets into the atmosphere, it'll start creating its own weather."

Fire crews were gearing up for another night in Riverside County where the Apple Fire has scorched at least 12,000 acres and burned one home.

An evacuation order was issued for the area north of Cherry Valley Boulevard, west of Highland Springs Avenue and east of Beaumont Avenue. An evacuation center was established at Beaumont High School, located at 39139 Cherry Valley Blvd. in Beaumont.

The evacuation orders were then expanded for homes north of Wilson Street, east of Sunset Avenue and west of Hathaway Street. The Oak Glen community in San Bernardino County was also placed under an evacuation order.

Voluntary evacuation orders were issued for residents in the Forest Falls area, but the order was later downgraded to an evacuation warning.

Residents in those areas, like Craig Parker, were hoping the fire wouldn't spread toward their homes.

"We saw the fire crest, but the wind did die down and we were hoping it was going to stop, maybe burn itself out over night," Parker said. "It still looked good this morning but no, the wind kicked up."

Nearly 2,600 homes, totaling some 7,800 people, were effected by the evacuation orders orders, fire officials said.

Firefighters can again expect triple-digit temperatures in the area as they continue to battle the flames on Saturday.

Crews are expected to focus their efforts on the Banning Bluff area, said Captain Fernando Herrera of Cal Fire Riverside. "The fire made a good run last night, threatened a lot of the homes," he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation but authorities say it likely may be a case of arson.