Riverside County health officials Monday advised San Gorgonio Pass residents to avoid outdoor activity as much as possible to minimize exposure to smoke and ash from the 26,000-acre Apple Fire.

According to the county Department of Public Health, remaining indoors with air conditioners running and windows closed provide the best means of reducing inhalation of unhealthy air.

An air filtering system within a home or business was also recommended.

“Wildfire smoke can cause a range of health issues, which include burning eyes, runny nose, shortness of breath, scratchy throat, headaches and chest pains,” according to an agency statement. “Smoke can also worsen chronic heart and lung disease.”

For San Gorgonio Pass residents who have sheltered in the temporary evacuation center at Beaumont High School, steps have been taken to minimize exposures — both to the smoke-polluted atmosphere and to coronavirus, according to county Emergency Management Department Director Bruce Barton.

“We have taken a number of precautions to ensure everyone is safe,” Barton said. “In addition to sheltering away from smoke, we implemented expanded precautions to ensure evacuated residents are protected from COVID with screening, physical distancing, sanitation stations and a number of other safety measures.”

The Apple Fire erupted late Friday afternoon on the north end of Cherry Valley and has since burned to the northeast, into San Bernardino County and the mountains near Forest Falls and north of the Morongo Indian Reservation.

The blaze is 5% contained. More than 2,200 personnel are on the fire lines, according to the U.S Forest Service.

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