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Southern California wildfire spreads amid scorching temperatures, forces evacuations

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https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/southern-california-wildfire-spreads-amid-scorching-temperatures-forces-evacuations-n1235584

A wildfire in Southern California that started Friday evening quickly spread across 1,900 acres by Saturday morning, destroying at least one home and sparking an evacuation order for hundreds of others.

The blaze, called the Apple fire, in Riverside County, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, was being fought by 375 firefighters with dozens of fire engines and air support. But it remained zero percent contained as of Saturday morning.

Firefighters were working in scorching temperatures that were forecast to reach 107 degrees in the county on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. About an hour southwest, in Coachella Valley, a high temperature of 120 degrees was expected.

“At this point we are establishing control lines, and we’re expecting some containment by tomorrow morning,” said Ty Davis, division chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Riverside County Fire Department, on Saturday morning.

“We are currently in the extended attack phase of the fire,” Davis said. “The public and the residents can expect additional fire department resources in and out of the area.”

A firefighter watches a brush fire at the Apple Fire in Cherry Valley, Calif., on, Aug. 1, 2020.Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP

The blaze was first reported as two small, separate fires just before 6 p.m. near Cherry Valley. But the two outbreaks grew exponentially within hours, leading authorities to put the first evacuation orders in place by 7:30 p.m. for areas around the small neighboring cities of Banning and Beaumont.

The two fires were first reported as separate small blazes of three acres and 15 to 20 acres, but merged later that night. Authorities estimated a few minutes before midnight that the inferno had grown to overtake 1,720 acres.

The National Weather Service warned that the Southwest would face hot and dry conditions with low humidity levels and gusty winds until late Sunday. All these components added up for the strong potential of fire weather.

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