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Apple fire at 26,450 acres, relief crews for weary firefighters arriving

The Apple fire that started in Riverside County’s Cherry Valley and raced into the ridges and canyons of the San Bernardino National Forest had consumed 26,450 acres by Monday morning and was at 5% containment –with fresh firefighting crews coming in to relieve those who have battled the blaze since Friday afternoon.

One injury has been reported. One home and two outbuildings have been reported burned, but damage assessment teams are making a survey.

More than 2,200 firefighting personnel from several agencies were at the scene as of late Sunday night, when Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said the state has secured a fire-management assistance grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help cover costs for fighting the Apple fire.

The grant amount was not immediately available.

Flames have burned through dry vegetation, and high temperatures and low humidity remain in the region. Much of the area in flames is inaccessible by ground. There were several spot fires overnight on the north side of the fire.

Recent weather conditions were expected to remain much the same today, albeit with temperatures a bit cooler and humidity a little better. Westerly winds are expected to gust between 20 mph and 30 mph Monday afternoon and evening.

The early forecast for the mountains is high temperatures of 90 to 98 degrees below 6,000 feet, the National Weather Service said. A fire map indicates the blaze is burning in the lower elevations of the forest area.

Evacuation orders, voluntary evacuation advisories, and warnings in the fire areas of Riverside and San Bernardino counties remained in effect. Sunday, the San Bernardino County Sheriff warned residents of Pioneertown and Rimrock they may be told to evacuate, but emphasized the message was only a warning.

The San Gorgonio Wilderness remained closed Monday.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District issued a smoke advisory through Monday night for the Coachella Valley, San Gorgonio Pass and Hemet-San Jacinto Valley due to the fire. The agency urged residents in the area who smell smoke or see ash to limit their exposure by remaining indoors with windows and doors closed or to seek alternate shelter, and avoid vigorous physical activity.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation. It was reported just before 5 p.m. Friday  in the area of Apple Tree Lane and Oak Glen Road on the north end of Cherry Valley, bordering Beaumont. Two fires merged into one by 5:45 p.m., Cal Fire/Riverside County, which initially handled the fire, reported.

Daron Wyatt, a spokesman for incident commanders at their outpost at Noble Creek Park in Oak Glen, said Sunday investigators had not confirmed reports of a man seen running away from the area where residents first saw the fire.

Source: Orange County Register

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