Thousands of Californians Evacuate as Apple Fire Burns Through More Than 26,000 Acres



The combination of high temperatures and strong winds has also given firefighters added difficulty, Cox told CNN.

"It actually creates this updraft of smoke ash and flame and it creates this huge cloud and it has a downdraft that actually spreads out in all 360 directions around the fire," she added.

The fire initially erupted on Friday afternoon and burned the Cherry Valley and Banning areas, as well as the San Bernardino National Forest, CBS News reported.

Nearly 8,000 people have been evacuated from both Riverside and San Bernardino counties, KNBC reported.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service shared a tweet showing a large plume of smoke traveling from California to Phoenix, Arizona (can be seen near the middle of the right side of the picture):

"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," local resident Luis Gomez told CBS News. "I got all jittery and I was afraid for my mom and my nephew."

According to a Cal Fire news release, authorities believe the blaze could have been started from a vehicle malfunction, "specifically, a diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system."

"The determination is reinforced by multiple independent witnesses, as well as supporting physical evidence," Cal Fire said. "Officers are seeking information from anyone that may have seen vehicle which appeared to have mechanical problems, or unusually smoke emitting from it."

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