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Apple Fire in California spreads to over 26,000 acres

Cause of California's Apple Fire determined
Cause of California's Apple Fire determined 00:40

A massive wildfire burning in Riverside and San Bernardino counties in California has scorched more than 26,000 acres and was at 5% containment as of Monday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The "Apple Fire," which is believed to have started as three separate blazes, broke out Friday afternoon and continues to burn three days later.

Flames roared overnight into the hillside and into the communities of Cherry Valley, Banning and into the San Bernardino National Forest.

"The fire burned north of us for quite some time and eventually it worked its way over here," one local resident told CBS Los Angeles.

But as the fire started making its way down Mias Canyon, the man feared for his neighbors' ranch across the way. "There was a fire truck sitting among the trees over there next to the home," he said.

Apple Fire In Southern California Forces Evacuations
Flames and heavy smoke approach on a western front of the Apple Fire, consuming brush and forest at a high rate of speed during an excessive heat warning on August 1, 2020 in Cherry Valley, California. David McNew / Getty Images

Cal Fire has had engines placed in every neighborhood as more than 1,300 firefighters stood guard, saving hundreds of homes this weekend. And the air attack gave the Apple Fire a one-two punch, pushing it farther into the San Bernardino National Forest and away from the communities below.

"The firefighters did a fabulous job keeping everything under control they were on it right away," said Joanne Erbe, another resident.

"We're so scared of the fire catching up to the houses because we're right under the mountains," said Carlos Gomez, a resident. "We are praying for the best and see how it goes."

"It was just like a really small cloud, and I saw a really big cloud of smoke. It's like a hundred times bigger than it was ... and that's what scared me. I got all jittery and I was afraid for my mom and my nephew," said Luis Gomez, another resident.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the state got a FEMA grant to help pay for the ongoing firefighting efforts.

On Monday afternoon, Cal Fire officials said the Apple Fire was sparked by the exhaust of a malfunctioning diesel-fueled vehicle, citing "multiple independent witnesses, as well as supporting physical evidence."

San Bernardino National Forest officials tweeted late Sunday that a night operations flight would be doing infrared mapping. 

About 8,000 people have been evacuated since the fire broke out. At least one home burned down Saturday.

"Folks not taking advantage of it over concerns about COVID-19, we have measures in place. We planned for this months ahead," said Captain Fernando Herrera of Cal Fire.

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