With 5% containment, Apple Fire keeps burning north of Beaumont after scorching 32 square miles

California

The massive Apple Fire continued to burn in the San Bernardino Mountains north of Beaumont Sunday night after scorching about 32 square miles.

Sky5 was overhead just after 11 p.m. as flames tore through the canyons above Banning, with the wildfire appearing to head toward the Morongo Basin.

More than 2,200 firefighters continue to battle the growing wildfire, which is 5% contained and has scorched 20,516 acres—or about 32 square miles—as of Sunday night, according to Cal Fire. Authorities have not reported any injuries.

Evacuation orders and warnings are still in effect, according to the Riverside County Fire Department‘s incident page.

Riverside County residents can type their address on the county website to see if they’re affected by any orders. They can also sign up for alerts on rivcoready.org.

The Oak Glen community of San Bernardino County was also ordered to evacuate on Saturday, and authorities said residents in that county should keep an eye on announcements from the Sheriff’s Department.

Officials have set up an evacuation center at Beaumont High School.

The blaze exploded in size over the weekend after starting in three different spots along Oak Glen Road around 5 p.m. Friday, according to Cal Fire. The cause remains under investigation, but Capt. Rich Cordova said it could possibly be a trailer dragging a chain or even an arsonist.

The Apple Fire had burned 1,720 acres by late Friday before spreading to 12,000 acres by 8 p.m. Saturday, when officials said about 7,800 people had been ordered to flee.

On Sunday, the fire appeared to move toward the Morongo Basin. By evening, it had grown to more than 20,000 acres from just 12,000 acres the night before.

“Much of the northern and eastern edge of the fire is in very steep, rugged hillsides which is not accessible to firefighting vehicles. … Fire activity is expected to remain high today, with active fire in most areas of the fire,” said the U.S. Forest Service’s incident information website.

Firefighters haven’t faced much wind but conditions have been hot and dry. The Forest Service said while temperatures should cool down by a couple degrees Sunday, the weather will stay mostly the same.

Twenty hand crews, six helicopters, 178 engines, and 19 water tenders have been deployed to the site, according to the Forest Service.

The flames have destroyed at least one residence and two outbuildings near Avenida Miravilla, Cal Fire said.

“You wonder when you drive away, ‘Are we gonna come back?,” said Bob Alsup, an Oak Glen resident who evacuated over the weekend. “But we did, so we’re fortunate.”

A longtime resident who identified himself as Bill told KTLA the area hasn’t seen a fire in a while, “so there’s a lot of heavy fuel out there.”

Another resident said some people tried to protect their homes from the flames.

“Stupid thing you always see people do is start, with a little hose, wetting your house down,” Frank Stewart told KTLA. “And I can tell you that that wouldn’t do a darn thing.”

Many in the community are retired and elderly, residents said.

Satellite image from National Weather Service shows smoke from the blaze reaching as far as Phoenix. Local air quality officials issued a smoke advisory effective through Sunday, predicting winds will push smoke to the Coachella Valley.

San Bernardino National Forest officials announced closures of the San Gorgonio Wilderness and Forest Falls recreation area.

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