Tag Archives: morongo basin


UPDATED August 4, 9:30 a.m.

The massive Apple fire, looming some 13 miles west of the Morongo Basin, has burned more than 26,850 acres in the San Bernardino National Forest, and as of this morning, was only 15 percent contained. The fire continues to burn north of Beaumont, Cherry Valley, Cabazon, and the Morongo Indian Reservation spreading north and east burning in rugged terrain and threatening hundreds of homes in the Banning and Forest Falls areas. housands of residents have been ordered to evacuate.

Cal Fire says 12 structures have been destroyed in the blaze, and there is one injury to a firefighter. The firefighter was refilling his chain saw when the gasoline geysered, burning his arm and hand. He was taken to Arrowhead Regional Medical Center where his burns were treated. The firefighter then returned to the line to continue fighting the fire. T

Smoke from the fire continues to be a presence locally and has, depending on wind direction, at times blanketed the Morongo Basin since Friday evening.

CalFire Investigators said Monday the fire was caused by a malfunctioning vehicle; the diesel-fueled vehicle was emitting burning carbon from its exhaust system as it was being driven on Oak Glen Road. Cal Fire says multiple witnesses and evidence at the scene confirms how the fire began, just before 5 p.m. on Friday, July 31. The vehicle caused multiple spot fires which eventually merged into one large blaze.

As a precautionary measure, San Bernardino County Fire has staged strike teams of firefighters in Pioneertown. Pioneertown and Rimrock, about 15 miles from the fire’s perimeter, are under an evacuation warning to ensure that residents are aware of the fire and are prepared to evacuate if necessary.

In Morongo Valley, the Fire Department there is closely monitoring the fire’s eastward progress and residents are also encouraged to prepare in case an evacuation is necessary.

Firefighters battle the Apple fire. Courtesy photo

Residents are encouraged to sign up for the county’s Telephone Emergency Notification System, a high-speed notification system that sends mass notifications via telephone and text messages.

The Telephone Emergency Notification System, or TENS, sends a mass alert to phone numbers in San Bernardino County’s 911 database, allowing public safety personnel to alert residents before, and during, potentially life-threatening emergencies, including wildfires, flash floods, and earthquakes. With the increased use of cell phones over landlines, cellphone numbers must be registered with the county to receive these alerts. To register your number, visit www.sbcounty.gov and click the “Sign Up for Emergency Alerts” icon. Residents who do not have internet access may register by dialing 211 to sign up. For more information, contact County Public Information Officer Tracey Martinez at 909-387-5950 or 909-936-5511.



When the Water fire in the Whitewater Preserve flared up Sunday afternoon, many residents in Pioneertown and Rimrock were surprised to hear that they should prepare for the possibility of evacuation. Crews got the Water fire under control within a few hours, which reduced the threat to the Morongo Basin, although Morongo Valley, Pioneertown, and Rimrock residents are urged to start thinking about what to do in case there is an evacuation order due to the Apple fire. Managing editor Tami Roleff offers these tips from Cal Fire on how to prepare in advance of an emergency evacuation order…

Once a mandatory evacuation order comes, residents don’t have much time to grab their essential items and leave. Cal Fire recommends that residents prepare their homes and themselves prior to getting the evacuation order. Make sure your emergency preparedness kitfilled with extra medications and eyeglasses, important documents, clothing, extra sets of keys, food and water, a first-aid kit, radio and extra batteriesis updated and ready to go, and located in a place where it’s easy to grab. Don’t forget to bring your pets, as well as their food, water, collars and leashes, too.

If you have time, grab your important photos, valuables, phone chargers, and computer information on thumb or external hard drives.

Cover-up to protect against heat and flying embers. Wear long pants, long sleeve shirt (100% cotton is preferable), heavy shoes/boots, cap, dry bandanna for face cover, goggles or glasses.

If you have time before you leave, turn off your gas and pilot lights.


The Apple Fire has funneled a lot of smoke and ash into the Morongo Basin. You may notice that it is harder to breathe outside, especially if you have a chronic condition. Furthermore, you may be concerned about your pets breathing in too many toxins. Reporter Cassidy Zimarik shares these tips to protect yourself and your pets from smoke and ash…

It is no secret that breathing in ash and smoke is not good for humans and animals, but what can you do to mitigate the harsher effects of inhaling these toxins?

The CDC and EPA have guidelines for just these scenarios. Luckily, for pets and humans alike, the recommendations are similar; stay inside. In addition to staying inside, you should run air conditioning instead of swamp coolers if possible and reduce physical activity while limiting outdoor time. You should also not add to indoor pollution by burning candles, frying or broiling meat, or smoking indoors. If you have outdoor pets, it is recommended that you bring them inside until the smoke decreases.

If you have a chronic condition like asthma or COPD, or you must be outside, it is recommended that you wear an N95 or P100 respirator. Symptoms to watch out for in humans and animals include coughing, watery eyes, trouble breathing, fatigue or weakness, and reduced appetite.

Reducing Smoke Exposure: https://www3.epa.gov/airnow/smoke_fires/reduce-your-smoke-exposure.pdf

Protecting Pets: https://www3.epa.gov/airnow/smoke_fires/protect-your-pets-from-wildfire-smoke.pdf 

Protecting Livestock and Large Animals: https://www3.epa.gov/airnow/smoke_fires/protect-your-large-animals-and-livestock-from-wildfire-smoke.pdf


Public health officials reported 452 more coronavirus cases and one additional COVID-19 death Monday, August 3. In all, the county has 33,432 confirmed cases — up 1.4 percent from Sunday, August 2. Its coronavirus death toll is now 418. Since July 3, the number of confirmed cases in San Bernardino County climbed 144 percent while deaths have risen 55 percent, according to numbers from the county’s public health website.

Here in the Morongo Basin, confirmed cases are now 191: Yucca Valley with 112; Joshua Tree 34; Twentynine Palms 23; Morongo Valley, 18; Landers, three; and Pioneertown with one.


The Morongo Unified School District has released their first video update on the school district’s progress towards reopening, including assigning a new start date for the first day of the 2020-2021 school year. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has the details…

In the new video released by MUSD, Superintendent tom Baumgarten provides updates on the school district’s progress towards reopening for the upcoming school year, including setting August 26 as the new first day of school to allow more time for teachers to learn the online teaching platform. Other topics include education models, distribution of electronic devices to students, and updates and staff development for teachers. Baumgarten promises more video updates in the future. The full video is available to watch on the official MUSD Facebook Page.