More than 1,300 firefighters are fighting the blaze with help from aircraft. EPA More than 1,300 firefighters, backed by helicopters and water-dumping planes, have been tackling the blaze dubbed the Apple Fire which started on Friday. Around 7,800 residents have been told to evacuate the area. FIRE crews in California are battling a massive wildfire that has forced thousands of people from their homes east of Los Angeles. The wildfire began as two adjacent blazes in Cherry Valley, an area near the city of Beaumont. Images show flumes of smoke filling the sky over the mountainous region. In a tweet, the National Weather Service said some smoke had blown east to Phoenix, Arizona – nearly 300 miles (482km) away. It has since stretched out to 20,516 acres (8,302 hectares), San Bernadino National Forest said in a tweet on Sunday. The government body said the blaze had been fuelled by high temperatures, low humidity and dry vegetation in the area. (BBC) Parts of the fire are on steep, rugged hillsides, making it hard for fire engines to reach.