Containment of the Apple Fire burning in the San Bernardino National Forest increased to 55% Tuesday as firefighters continued building containment lines around the blaze’s perimeter.
“As crews fortify control lines and fire progression diminishes, operations will be transitioning from 24-hour shifts to day shift(s) only tomorrow,” the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement.
Since it started on July 31, the fire has consumed 33,234 acres in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Officials were bracing for increased winds, with gusts up to 45 mph, within the San Gorgonio Pass, but no outbreaks were reported along the fire lines.
Nearly 500 firefighters were released from the fire Monday. The 1,719 fire personnel who remain on scene are being aided by two Cal Fire air tankers and 17 water-dropping helicopters.
The American Red Cross announced Tuesday afternoon that all relief operations within the fire zone, including maintenance of services at a temporary evacuation center that had been established at Beaumont High School, were finished because all evacuation orders have been lifted.
“The Red Cross has helped 183 people affected by the Apple Fire,” according to a statement by the nonprofit organization. “The Red Cross and partners have served over 2,196 meals and snacks and provided more than 300 overnight hotel stays for evacuees since the Apple Fire began.”
Anyone in need of further assistance was encouraged to call the organization’s Disaster Dispatch center at 855-891-7325, or visit redcross.org/wildfire.
Full containment of the fire is expected Sunday or Monday.
The San Gorgonio Wilderness area — where 7,249 acres have burned due to the Apple Fire — remains closed to the public.
The flames destroyed four homes and eight outbuildings, and resulted in injuries to three firefighters. An estimated 2,600 residences and 7,800 people were evacuated at the height of the blaze.
While the South Coast Air Quality Management District did not extend its smoke advisory for portions of the Coachella Valley, the San Gorgonio Pass, eastern Riverside County and the eastern San Bernardino Mountains, the agency continued to caution that unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups will linger further into the week.
Residents with questions or concerns about the fire can call 909-383-5688.
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