Thousands flee California fires; storm Isaias lashes Florida coast

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Nearly 8,000 residents of Riverside County in Southern California were forced to evacuate their homes on Saturday as a wildfire spread uncontained across more than 4,000 acres, the County fire department said even as a tropical storm hit the state of Florida on the other side of the United States on Sunday.

The fire, dubbed the Apple Fire by local firefighters was reported on Friday in Cherry Valley, a community about 75 miles east of Los Angeles and had destroyed at least one family home as of Saturday.

Residents of 2,586 homes, totaling around 7,800 people, had been told to evacuate, the department said. The fire had grown from 700 acres on Friday evening to 4,125 acres by Saturday evening and was 0% contained, according to the County fire department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Meanwhile, bands of heavy rain from Isaias lashed Florida’s east coast on Sunday while officials dealing with surging cases of the coronavirus kept a close watch on the weakened tropical storm.

Isaias was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm on Saturday, but was still expected to bring heavy rain and flooding as it crawled just off Florida’s Atlantic coast. “Don’t be fooled by the downgrade,” Florida Gov Ron DeSantis warnedat a news conference.

Upper-level winds took much of the strength out of Isaias, said Stacy Stewart, senior hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The storm also slowed down considerably.

Authorities closed beaches, parks and virus testing sites, lashing signs to palm trees so they wouldn’t blow away.

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