Cause of Apple Fire Determined as Thousands of Residents Remain Evacuated

Rebekah Sager
August 03, 2020 - 4:04 pm
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The cause of the Apple Fire has been determined late Monday afternoon, according to the Riverside County Fire Department and CAL Fire.

"CAL FIRE Peace officers have determined that the Apple Fire was the result of a vehicle malfunction, specifically, a diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system," the press release said on Twitter. "The determination is reinforced by multiple independent witnesses, as well as supporting physical evidence. CAL FIRE Peace officers are seeking information from anyone that may have seen a vehicle which appeared to have mechanical problems or unusual smoke emitting from it. If you were driving on Oak Glen Road at the time the fires were small, CAL FIRE Peace officers want to talk to you. Please call our anonymous hotline at (800) 633-2836." 

The Apple Fire is currently more than 20,000 acres and is still burning in Cherry Valley in San Bernardino County, according to the press release. Evacuations stood at 7,800 people and 2,586 homes. The fire started Friday afternoon.

Nearly 8,000 residents are under evacuations and hundreds of firefighters are battling a massive, over 26,000 acre Apple Fire burning in the San Bernardino Mountains north of Beaumont.

Thousands of personnel have been assigned to the fire with more coming in. 

As of about 7:00 a.m. Monday morning, the fire has scorched about 41 square miles, according to updates from the InciWeb incident information website.

On Sunday, the fire appeared to be moving toward the Morongo Basin and remains 5% contained as of 5:10 a.m.

The Riverside County Fire Department says the fire was possibly caused by arson.

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.

The blaze is now estimated to be as large as 15,000 acres and has scorched 20,516 acres or about 32 square miles as of 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Cal Fire officials said.

Almost 3,000 homes are being evacuated and the fire is 0% contained as of Saturday night, according to Cal Fire/ Riverside County Fire Department.

Mandatory evacuation orders for the following areas are effective Saturday:

north of Cherry Boulevard, west of Highland Springs, east of Beaumont Avenue

Potato Canyon area west to Raywood Flat (an earlier county tweet mistakenly said Raymond Flat)

north of Wilson Street, east of Sunset Avenue, west of Hathaway Street

Officials have set up an evacuation center for residents and their animals at Beaumont High School.

The Sheriff Department’s Cabazon station announced the following road closures effective indefinitely:

northbound on Oak Glen Road from Orchard Avenue

northbound on International Park/Cherry Avenue at Bridge Street

northbound Avenida Miravilla at Orchard Street

northbound Avenida San Timoteo at Orchard Street

northbound Winesap at Dutton Street

northbound Bellflower Avenue at Cherry Valley Boulevard

northbound Highland Springs at Oak Valley

northbound Sunset Ave at W. Wilson Street

northbound Bluff Street at Mias Canyon Road

Residents with family members who have been left behind and need transportation or medical assistance can contact the Sheriff’s Department at 951-776-1099 (select option 5), or if it’s an emergency, call 911.

They can call Riverside County Animal Control at 951-358-7387 for animal evacuations. The Sheriff’s Department urged people who have left behind necessary medication to call their local hospital for help.

Authorities have not reported any injuries.