BANNING, Calif. -

Low-income residents who have lost their homes in the Silver Fire, or who have had to run their air conditioning units more than usual to avoid harmful smoke, may qualify for one-time assistance from the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County. 

CAP has activated the Severe Weather Energy Assistance and Transportation Service program (SWEATS) to serve area residents impacted by the blaze southwest of Cabazon, said Maria Juarez, executive director of the non-profit organization.

"People are being instructed to run their conditioners and stay indoors. They are going to run up their utility bills," Juarez said. "We want them to run their air and have good air quality during this fire."

The SWEATS program offers up to $1,000 in utility assistance to households that meet the federal poverty income guidelines and whose utility bills spiked during the blaze. Residents whose homes have been destroyed can receive temporary lodging for up to five days in addition to blankets and sleeping bags, she said.

The Silver fire ignited Wednesday. The wind-driven fire has scorched at least 16,000 acres, destroying 26 homes and one business. Five firefighters and one civilian have been injured by the fire, which was about 25 percent contained by midday Friday.

Affected residents may download an application for assistance at http://www.capriverside.org, or they may call (951) 955-4900.  Juarez said callers should identify themselves as being impacted by the fires.