Big Bear News – Cherry Valley, CA – FINAL UPDATE: 8/20/20, 11:30AM – The Apple Fire is calm and 95% contained 20 days after it was sparked. The Apple Fire was started in Cherry Valley CA on July 31, 2020, due to a malfunctioning diesel vehicle. Due to dry vegetation and southwest winds, the wildfire quickly spread, eventually causing evacuations and reaching 33,424 acres total. At the height of the fire, over 2,800 personnel responded and assisted on the incident. Much of the northern and eastern sections of the wildfire burned on very steep, rugged wilderness mountains that were not accessible to firefighting vehicles. Firefighters earned 90% containment by August 14, and management was turned over to the San Bernardino National Forest. The Forest Service is focused on suppression, suppression repair and monitoring while continuing to work towards 100% containment. This will be the final Apple Fire written update unless there are significant new changes in fire behavior.
UPDATE: 8/16/20, 11AM -On the 17th day of the Apple Fire, containment is at 90% with 248 firefighters still working the fire. Coping with extreme heat and steep terrain, crews progressed Saturday in securing the northeastern edge of the fire in a remote part of the San Bernardino Mountains. Light sprinkles fell briefly on the burn area yesterday evening, but did not wet the ground. Using heavy equipment and hand tools, crews are working to mop-up heat along the fireline and repair impacts to the land. Far within the fire’s interior, pockets of burning vegetation may occasionally generate smoke. $51.8 million has been spent so far on fighting the Apple Fire.
UPDATE: 8/15/20, 10AM – Firefighting personnel have reached 90% containment on the Apple Fire with the number of acres burned remaining at 33,424. The total number of personnel is now at 897. Today, the California Incident Management Team 2 will transfer command of the Apple Fire to a local Type 3 team led by Incident Commander Matt Ahearn of the San Bernardino National Forest, while still in unified command with CAL FIRE. The work is not over—suppression repair efforts will continue over the coming weeks. Crews will remain to mop up along the fireline and repair impacts on the landscape. Expect heavy equipment in areas that are being rehabilitated. Crews return today from the spike camps in the San Gorgonio Wilderness, where they worked on containment lines. Far within the fire’s edge, pockets of burning vegetation may occasionally generate small isolated smoke columns.
UPDATE: 8/12/20, 5:00PM – Firefighting personnel have reached 60% containment on the Apple Fire at 33,424 acres. As of today, crews will transition from 24-hour shifts to day shifts. Windy conditions are making pockets of heat more visible. Since personnel and equipment needs are scaling down, the two established fire camps will be consolidated today into one location in Beaumont. The total personnel now assigned to the Apple Fire is 1,446. Beginning tomorrow, progress reports will only be given in the morning.
UPDATE: 8/11/20, 3:30pm – The latest update has the Apple Fire at 33,234 acres, 55% containment and total personnel at 1,719. As crews fortify control lines and fire progression diminishes, operations will be transitioning from 24-hour shifts to day shift only. With the focus now in areas that are more difficult to access by foot, crews must shift their firefighting tactics. Helicopters will support operations today by transporting firefighters who will rappel down to the fireline in a remote area to the north. Additionally, the helicopters will serve as crew shuttles. The Evacuation Warning for all of Morongo Valley in San Bernardino County was lifted yesterday afternoon. There are no remaining Evacuation Warnings in effect.
UPDATE: 8/9/20, 11:00AM -As of the morning report on the Apple Fire, containment is now at 40% and 32,412 acres burned. A total personnel count is 2,721 working the fire. Successful fire suppression operations over the past several days has allowed fire managers to shift focus from protecting communities to working on preventing the fire footprint from growing. As progress continues on fire containment lines, resources that are no longer needed will be released from the incident over the next several days. Strike teams of large fire engines used for structure protection that were utilized on the southern and western flanks will be reduced in number; however enough will remain to ensure adequate coverage. Smaller wildland fire engines capable of travel over difficult terrain will be utilized as the focus shifts from developed to wildland areas.
UPDATE: 8/8/20, 4:30PM – The Apple Fire is now at 35% containment with 32,412 acres burned. Last night, firefighters finished a firing operation that began on Thursday. Throughout the day Friday, a large column of smoke was visible on the east flank of the fire in the Millard Canyon area. This planned burn operation was conducted to decrease fuels in order to limit the movement of the fire to the east. Firefighters used dozer line, hand line and a road as a fuel break as they fired out vegetation along the eastern edge of the fire. Due to the hard work of the firefighters on this firing operation, smoke impacts to the communities east of the fire should be diminished.
UPDATE: 8/7/20, 4:30pm – Progress on containing the Apple Fire continues with the percent contained remaining at 30% and 29,267 acres burned. The containment line in the Oak Glen area will be completed by the end of the day today. The fire continues to back down slopes in that area to create the containment line. Good progress has been made on Yucaipa Ridge as well reducing the threat to Forest Falls. The Evacuation Order has been lifted for all areas east of Oak Glen Road, including Potato Canyon and Pine Bench north of the Riverside/San Bernardino county line. An Evacuation Warning remains in place for Forest Falls, Morongo Valley, Pioneertown, and Rimrock.
UPDATE: 8/5/20, 10:00am – As of this morning, the Apple Fire is at 27,319 acres and 30% contained. Fire activity last night was mainly on the east and west flanks. Ground crews made good progress on building lines around the perimeters of the fire. Today’s high priority will be for the protection of the Forest Falls and Oak Glen communities as well as limiting fire growth to the east. To date, four homes have been destroyed by the Apple Fire. The total number of firefighting personnel assigned to the fire is 2,578 with heavy use of aircraft and ground crews in areas that consist mainly of chaparral and brush. Evacuation orders have been lifted for Riverside County but evacuation warnings are still in place. The community of Oak Glen remains under an evacuation order with warnings for Forest Falls, Pioneertown and Rimrock. The San Gorgonio Wilderness area is closed and all Forest Service recreation areas in the Forest Falls area are closed. Additionally, the PCT between the Forest Boundary and Forest Road 1N01 is closed. The Apple Fire is still not a threat to Big Bear.
UPDATE: 8/4/20, 7:30AM – Currently, the Apple Fire has burned 26,850 and is 7% contained. For additional visit, see the story titled “Officials Determine Apple Fire Triggered by Vehicle Exhaust”.
UPDATE: 8/3/20, 7:00AM – The Apple Fire has burned over 26,450 acres and there is currently 5% containment. Much of the northern and eastern edge of the fire is in very steep, rugged hillsides which is not accessible to firefighting vehicles. Firefighters continue to work to slow the spread of the fire using all resources available including helicopters, fixed wing air tankers, ground equipment and hand-crews.
UPDATE: 8/3/20, 6:30AM – The Apple Fire burned actively yesterday, primarily to the north and east. The reported number acreage burned at this time remains at 20,516 but a more accurate acreage will be available later this morning. Much of the fire activity is being driven by the record low moisture content of the vegetation in the area combined with high temperatures and low relative humidity. These conditions are contributing to active fire behavior both day and night. The fire is burning in an area with no recent fire history. It is expected to burn into less dense fuels as it progresses. Currently, 2,266 fire fighting personnel are assigned to the Apple Fire. Firefighters on the ground and in the air have been engaged and are building firelines directly on the fire’s edge where possible. Others are protecting structures in local communities. Additional firefighters are arriving on scene to assist with the effort to contain the fire. Containment is now at 5%. The Apple Fire is still not a threat to Big Bear, as the fire continues to move east northeast from it’s origination point. San Bernardino County residents in the community Oak Glen are under an evacuation order. Forest Falls, Pioneertown, and Rim Rock are all under an evacuation warning. Additional evacuations may be put in place as the fire progresses. Highway 38, as well as Highway 18 in both directions, remain open.
UPDATE: 8/2/20, 12 noon – The Apple Fire has burned over 20,516 acres and now, once again, has no containment. In addition to the closure of the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area and sections of the Pacific Crest Hiking Trail, all Forest Service recreation areas in the Forest Falls area are closed due to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department’s Voluntary Evacuation Order for Forest Falls and Oak Glen.
UPDATE 8:00AM, 8/2/20 – The Apple Fire, which began in Cherry Valley Friday night, has burned over 15,000 acres and is now 12% contained. Smoke from this fire will still be visible in the Big Bear Valley. Much of the northern and eastern edge of the fire is in very steep, rugged hillsides which is not accessible to firefighting vehicles. Firefighters will continue to work to slow the spread of the fire using all resources available including helicopters, fixed wing air tankers, ground equipment and hand-crews. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered today to assume command of the fire. Current resources on the fire include 20 hand-crews, 6 Helicopters, 178 Engines, and 19 Water Tenders. A number of air tankers are available as well. Fire activity is expected to remain high today, with active fire in most areas of the Apple Fire. Weather will remain similar to the past few days, with a high pressure ridge creating hot, dry conditions. Temperatures should be a couple degrees cooler than yesterday, with low humidity. Evacuation orders are in effect for those communities closest to the area of spread. The Apple Fire poses no threat to Big Bear.
UPDATE: 8:00PM, 8/1/20 – The Apple Fire is now at 12,000 acres and remains at 0% containment. Evacuation orders and warnings are in place to those areas closest to the path of the fire. The fire is still not a threat to Big Bear.
UPDATE: 5:30PM, 8/1/20 – The San Bernardino National Forest is closing the San Gorgonio Wilderness as well as inbound trails and associated parking lots. There is the possibility of additional evacuations that could be put in place in the path of the fire. Highway 38, as well as Highway 18 in both directions, remain open. The Apple Fire still does not pose a threat to Big Bear.
UPDATE: 3:30PM, 8/1/20 – The Apple Fire is now at 4125 acres and remains at 0% containment. Additional evacuation orders and warnings are now in place for those closest to the area of spread. It still does not pose a threat to the Big Bear Valley.
1:00PM, 8/1/20 – An ominous plume of smoke is visible from the North Shore of Big Bear Valley. The smoke is from the “Apple Fire” that started yesterday at approximately 6pm in the community of Cherry Valley. Currently, the fire is at 1900 acres with 0% containment. At it’s distance, the Apple Fire poses no threat to the Big Bear Valley and is under the direction of CALFIRE/Riverside County, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department and CHP. Cherry Valley is located below Oak Glen, close to Beaumont. The fire is burning very close to the 10 Freeway. Evacuations are in place for Potato Canyon area west to Raywood Flat in San Bernardino County. Hot and dry fuels are creating a fast rate of spread.