On August 2, 2020, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on board NASA’s Terra satellite acquired a true-color image of the Apple Fire. The large red hot spot in California’s Mill Creek Canyon region marks the area where the thermal bands on the instrument detected high temperatures from the actively-burning fire. A large plume of gray smoke rises from the fire and has been blown by the wind hundreds of miles across eastern California and Nevada.
The Apple Fire was ignited near Oak Glen Road on July 31 at about 5:00 pm and has been attributed to a malfunctioning diesel-fueled vehicle that emitted burning carbon from the exhaust system as it travelled along Oak Glen Road in Cherry Valley. As of the morning of August 5, the fire has burned 27,319 acres, spreading north into Mill Creek Canyon and east into the San Gorgonio Wilderness. According to InciWeb Incident Information System, the fire is burning in an area with no recent fire history. As it burns into the wilderness, the fuels become decadent chaparral and timber that has experienced beetle kill on the ridge tops. As it progresses east it will burn into areas where fuel is not so dense.
Cal Fire reports there has been one injury and 12 structures destroyed so far. Three agencies – federal, state, and local – are partnering to fight the fire, with 31 crews and 2,565 personnel participating. Numerous road closures are in effect and the San Gorgonio Wilderness has been closed. Active evacuations have currently been lifted for most areas, although evacuation warnings remain in effect in several locations.