1st big Southern California wildfire of 2020 keeps on raging
BANNING, Calif. (AP) — A huge wildfire in mountains east of Los Angeles that is Southern California's biggest blaze so far this year was still raging Monday, with thousands of people forced to evacuate their homes.
The blaze in Riverside County, among several wildfires across California, had consumed more than 41 square miles (about 106 square kilometers) of dry brush and timber since it broke out Friday evening, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
As of Monday morning, it was just 5% contained and the fire along with coronavirus precautions made for added stress at an evacuation center, said John Medina an American Red Cross spokesman.
Volunteers used to "close contact” with evacuees have had to adjust their approach during a time of social distancing, Medina said.
“I mean, that’s part of the recovery of a disaster, is that you have to show warmth and love and caring. And that’s hard when you’re standing six feet away. So that’s the biggest challenge,” Medina told KESQ-TV.
Bill Boehm helped his mother evacuate her home with her three horses and said the pandemic hasn't stopped people from coming together to assist each other.
“Everyone seemed to be wearing masks and such, so that type of precaution was still going on," Boehm told the news station.
Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the blaze that began as two adjacent fires in Cherry Valley, a rural area near the city of Beaumont, about 85 miles (137 kilometers) east of downtown Los Angeles.
Flames raced along brushy ridge tops and came close to houses while firefighters attacked from the ground and air.
One home and two outbuildings were destroyed, California fire officials said. No injuries were reported.
In Northern California, evacuations were...