Smoke from Apple Fire reaches Las Vegas and Phoenix, prompts air quality warning for Inland Empire

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A massive wildfire burning in the San Bernardino Mountains has sent plumes of smoke as far as Nevada and Arizona, prompting officials to extend an air quality warning for parts of the Inland Empire for the third day in a row Monday.

Winds blowing from the west in the area of the so-called Apple Fire will persist “at least for the next several days,” the South Coast Air Quality Management District said Sunday.

“Since the start of the fire on Friday afternoon, most of the smoke has either remained well above the surface or has been transported to the northeast through the Morongo Valley and Yucca Valley,” reads an advisory from SCAQMD.

Smoke could also affect the Coachella Valley, eastern Riverside County, Joshua Tree National Park and the elevated areas of the San Gorgonio Pass, the agency said.

SCAQMD urged residents who smell smoke or see ash from the wildfire to avoid vigorous physical activity and remain indoors with the windows and doors closed.

The SCAQMD website has an updated map indicating the air quality across Southern California. As of 11:25 a.m. Monday, officials described the air quality in Riverside and San Bernardino counties as unhealthy for sensitive groups.

A satellite image shows smoke being blown as far as Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows smoke from the Apple Fire burning in the San Bernardino Mountains on Aug. 3, 2020.
Satellite imagery from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows smoke from the Apple Fire burning in the San Bernardino Mountains on Aug. 3, 2020.

The Apple Fire ignited around 5 p.m. Friday along a road in the Cherry Valley community and has since exploded to at least 41 square miles, forcing some 7,800 residents in Riverside and San Bernardino counties to evacuate.

The blaze was moving through dry brush toward the northeast, according to fire officials. While authorities have not reported any injuries, the blaze has destroyed at least three structures.

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