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Apple Fire: Massive California wildfire forces evacuations

A firefighter drops water on the Apple Fire in Banning, California

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More than 1

,300 firefighters are battling the blaze using aircraft

California firefighters are battling a massive fire that has forced thousands of people from their homes east of Los Angeles.

More than 1,300 firefighters, supported by helicopters and water-dumping planes, have received the fire known as the Apple Fire which started on Friday.

Parts of the fire are on steep, rugged hills, making it difficult for fire engines to reach.

About 7,800 residents have been told to evacuate the area.

Pictures show smoke that fills the sky over the mountainous area. In a tweet, the National Weather Service said some smoke had blown east to Phoenix, Arizona – nearly 300 miles (482 km) away.

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The wildfire started as two adjacent fires in the Cherry Valley, an area near the town of Beaumont.

It has since reached 20,516 acres (8,302 acres), the San Bernadino National Forest said in a tweet on Sunday.

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Rough terrain has made it dangerous for firefighters, says the US Forest Service

The government body said the leaves had been driven by high temperatures, low humidity and dry vegetation in the area.

The US Forest Service told Riverside Press-Enterprise, a local newspaper, that because the fire was in rough terrain, it was dangerous for firefighters to try to surround it.

“We do not want to put firefighters in a dangerous situation,” said spokeswoman Lisa Cox. “It burns in a straight line up a mountain.”

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