Calif. fire grows slightly, threatens homes

Shirley fire scorches 2,000 acres in Sequoia National Forest

June 16, 2014


A wildfire burning near homes Monday in the southern Sierra Nevada west of California’s Lake Isabella grew only slightly overnight and crews expected to make significant progress before hotter, drier weather sets in later in the week.

Some 500 homes were under threat in the Kern River Valley, Calif., after the Shirley Fire near Lake Isabella swelled to about 2,000 acres Sunday.

Some 500 homes were under threat in the Kern River Valley, Calif., after the Shirley Fire near Lake Isabella swelled to about 2,000 acres Sunday.

Officials ordered the evacuation of 1,000 homes and the Southern California Edison communication facilities Saturday night as the fire spread through the region.

Firefighters using air tankers and helicopters were battling the blaze, which has charred about 3.4 square miles of trees and brush in and around the Sequoia National Forest.

Flames came within a mile of the mountain community of Wofford Heights and authorities called on residents of about a thousand threatened homes to evacuate.

The fire broke out Friday night in a remote area about 40 miles northeast of Bakersfield and exploded late Saturday as dry winds pushed the flames toward homes, prompting Kern County Sheriff’s deputies to knock on door into the night to urge residents to leave.

More than 1,000 firefighters were battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain at elevations around 2,500 feet amid a popular outdoor recreation area. Aircraft were scooping water from lake Isabella to use against the flames.

“Our current outlook for the forecast is such that we are really ramping up suppression operations over the next couple of days because it’s going to be even hotter and drier at the end of the week,” Forest Service spokeswoman Jennifer Chapman said.

The Forest Service said that camping, horseback riding, rafting and other activities in the Sequoia district were so far unaffected by the blaze.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation.

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