Wildfire grows to 900 acres in southern California, triggering evacuations

Firefighters on Friday evening were battling the Apple fire, which has burned 900 acres in the Cherry Valley area of Riverside County.

The vegetation fire was reported at 4:55 p.m. in the 9000 block of Oak Glen Road, according to the Riverside County Fire Department. There is zero per cent containment.

More than 300 firefighters, several helicopters and air tankers responded to the fire.

Evacuation orders are in place for residents south of the county line, north of Dutton Street and east of Oak Glen Road. They also include residents north of Gilman Street in the Banning Bluff area. An evacuation centre has been opened at Beaumont High School for people and animals.

Fernando Herrera, a public information officer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and the Riverside County Fire Department, said about 1,000 residents have been ordered to evacuate. He said open land with thick vegetation has provided “quite a bit of fuel for that fire to continue to burn (and) have a lot of intensity.”

There have been no reports of structure damage, but the fire has come very close to homes.

“A lot of people’s backyards were on fire,” Herrera said. “It ran in between homes and around homes. It definitely was very threatening. We could have lost homes, but we brought in a massive amount of ground resources to do structure defence, protect the life and property of all these residents.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.



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