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.
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.