Wildfire east of Los Angeles grows, forces thousands from homes

by Reuters
Monday, 3 August 2020 18:30 GMT

Aug 3 (Reuters) - A wildfire east of Los Angeles that has already burned more than 26,000 acres was only 5% contained and spreading north and east on Monday, prompting a fresh round of evacuation orders, authorities said.

The fire, dubbed the Apple Fire by local firefighters and not related to technology company Apple Inc, has already forced about 8,000 residents from their homes in Riverside County. The blaze was first reported in Cherry Valley, a community about 75 miles (120 km) east of Los Angeles.

The Apple Fire is just the third wildfire in California this year to burn over 10,000 acres and it is expected to quickly become the state's biggest blaze so far this fire season. The state's department of forestry and fire protection says global climate change is fueling ever more intense fire seasons, though 2019 saw a sharp drop in acreage burned after two brutal years in blazes.

Nearly 2,300 firefighters were battling the Apple Fire, which was burning in an area with no recent fire history, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG). More than 275 fire trucks, nine helicopters and two fixed-wing planes were being used. Adding to the challenge in controlling the fire was the forecast for afternoon winds and warm temperatures on Monday.

The NWCG said that the fire was "very active" overnight Sunday into Monday, and that multiple firespots erupted on the north side of the blaze.

Evacuations have been ordered in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, and the San Gorgonio Wilderness has been closed. (Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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