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Homes evacuated as Southern California wildfire grows east of Los Angeles

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The Apple Fire burns behind mountains near Beaumont, California, Sunday, August 2, 2020.
The Apple Fire burns behind mountains near Beaumont, California, Sunday, August 2, 2020.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu
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Thousands of people were under evacuation orders on Sunday after a wildfire in mountains east of Los Angeles exploded in size and crews battled flames in high temperatures.

The fire straddling Riverside and San Bernardino counties, which has been dubbed the Apple Fire, has consumed around 80 square kilometres of dry brush and timber, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

The blaze began in the form of two adjacent fires, reported on Friday evening, in Cherry Valley, which is an unincorporated area near the city of Beaumont about 137 kilometres east of downtown Los Angeles.

Flames leapt along brushy ridge tops and came close to homes while firefighters attacked it from the ground and air.

Aircrafts dropping fire retardant assisted crews on the ground.

One home and two outbuildings were destroyed, Cal Fire said.

No injuries have been reported.

Evacuation orders and advisories were issued for about 8,000 people in mountain, canyon and foothill neighbourhoods.

Campgrounds and hiking trails were closed in the San Gorgonio Wilderness area of the San Bernardino National Forest.

A huge smoke plume was visible for miles around and contributed to poor air quality.

The mercury hit 43 degrees Celsius on Sunday in nearby Palm Springs.

The cause is under investigation.