Southern California 'Apple Fire' forces nearly 8,000 to evacuate

A firefighter watches the flames crest a ridge during the Apple Fire near Banning, California, on Aug 1, 2020.
A firefighter watches the flames crest a ridge during the Apple Fire near Banning, California, on Aug 1, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) - Nearly 8,000 residents of Riverside County in Southern California were forced to evacuate from their homes on Saturday (Aug 1) as a wildfire spread uncontained across more than 1,600 hectares, the County fire department said.

The fire, dubbed the Apple Fire by local firefighters - who routinely give blazes identifying names - was reported on Friday in Cherry Valley, a community about 120km east of Los Angeles and had destroyed at least one family home as of Saturday evening.

Photographs shared by the Riverside County fire department on Twitter on Saturday showed thick plumes of smoke filling the sky over the mountainous region.

Residents of 2,586 homes, totaling around 7,800 people, had been told to evacuate, the department said.

The fire had grown from 283ha on Friday evening to 1,670ha by Saturday evening and was zero per cent contained, according to the county fire department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.