The Apple Fire raging in the mountains in the San Bernardino National Forest has blackened 29,267 acres, destroyed four homes, injured two firefighters and remained 30% contained Friday.
A community meeting was planned for Friday for the Morongo and Yucca Valley communities to update residents on efforts to extinguish the brusher starting at 6 p.m. at the Covington Park Community Center, 11165 Vale Drive, in Morongo Valley, where U.S. Forest Service personnel will provide updated information, and residents will be able to ask questions.
In addition to the four homes destroyed by the flames, eight outbuildings have been lost. One of the homes and two of the outbuildings were located near Avenida Miravilla in Cherry Valley, according to Cal Fire.
The fire started about 5 p.m. July 31 near Apple Tree Lane and Oak Glen Road, and was sparked by burning exhaust from a diesel-fueled vehicle, according to Cal Fire.
A firefighter sustained a head injury when he was struck by a falling tree branch on Thursday. The crewman was aided by medics at the location but required further attention and was taken to a staging area, where he was reportedly picked up by an ambulance. No other details were immediately available, including his identity or condition. Another firefighter suffered unspecified minor injuries earlier this week.
The fire is extending on a northeast track at roughly mile-high elevations in the area of Millard Canyon, according to the Forest Service.
In San Bernardino County, mandatory evacuation orders remain in place east of Oak Glen Road in Yucaipa, and non-mandatory evacuation warnings are still in effect in Forest Falls, Morongo Valley, Rimrock and Pioneertown, according to the USFS.
The Whitewater Canyon community north of Interstate 10 and west of Highway 62 in Riverside and San Bernardino counties was added Thursday to the evacuation warning list.
Officials believe the blaze may be fully contained as soon as Aug. 17. An estimated 2,600 residences and 7,800 people were evacuated at the height of the fire. All evacuation orders in Riverside County have since been lifted.
The head of the fire is on a mountainside in San Bernardino County, where the vast majority of the 2,600 firefighters who have been deployed are working. A total of 20 aircraft — 18 water-dropping helicopters and two air tankers — have been rotating in and out of the fire zone, helping lay down tentative containment boundaries.
The fire has been spreading deeper into San Bernardino County and the San Gorgonio wilderness. The wilderness remains closed to all use, including a stretch of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail that cuts through it.
According to the governor’s Office of Emergency Services, a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant has been arranged to ensure resources are available to fight the fire. It will also allow local, state and tribal agencies responding to the fire to apply for 75% reimbursement of their eligible costs.
Along with county fire crews, personnel from the Calimesa, Morongo, Murrieta, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Huntington Beach, Hemet, Pechanga, San Bernardino, Soboba, Los Angeles and Los Angeles County fire departments were sent to assist under a mutual aid request.
Residents with questions or concerns about the fire can call 909-383-5688.
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