BANNING (CBSLA) — A massive fire burning in Riverside County has scorched 20,516 acres and was at 5% containment, firefighters said Sunday night.
That marked the first evidence of containment of this massively growing fire on its third day of being active.
Flames roared overnight into the hillside and into the communities of Cherry Valley, Banning and into the San Bernardino National Forest. The fire, which is believed to have originated as three separate fires, broke out Friday afternoon along Apple Tree Lane and Oak Glen Road on the north end of the unincorporated community that borders Beaumont.
Doug Hammer, who lives on Bluff Street north of Banning, has watched firefighters push the flames away from his home for two days now. “The fire burned north of us for quite some time and eventually it worked its way over here,” he said.
But as the fire started making its way down Mias Canyon, he feared for his neighbors’ ranch across the way.
“There’s a fire truck sitting among the trees over there next to the home,” he said.
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 further 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.
On Saturday, firefighters battled the intense flames from the air, utilizing fixed-wing aircraft. At least one home has burned, and several outbuildings.
Evacuation orders and warnings remain in place, and include the following areas:
• North of Morongo Road East of Millard Canyon Road West of Whitewater Canyon Road (evacuation warning);
• Potato Canyon area west to Raywood Flat in San Bernardino County (evacuation order);
• North of Wilson Street east of Sunset Avenue and west of Hathaway Street (evacuation order);
• East of Oak Glen Road West of Banning Canyon Road and along Pine Beach Road (evacuation order);
• Potato Canyon Area West to Raywood Flat, in San Bernardino County (evacuation warning);
• North of Cherry Valley Blvd West of Highland Springs East of Beaumont Avenue (evacuation order);
• North of Gilman Street cross of Bluff Street (evacuation order);
• South of the County Line, North of Dutton Street and East of Oak Glen Road (evacuation order).
“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.
About 8,000 people have been evacuated. Displaced residents were being asked to go to Beaumont High School on Beaumont Avenue and Cherry Valley Boulevard. Pets were welcome.
“Folks not taking advantage of it over concerns about COVID-19, we have measures in place. We planned for this months ahead,” said Capt. Fernando Herrera of Cal Fire.
To search your address to determine if you are affected by an evacuation warning or order, click here.
Incident updates can also be monitored here.