California fire grows slightly, threatens homes
June 16, 2014 03:06 PM | 325 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An Erickson Air-Crane loads up from Isabella Lake Sunday, June 15, 2014 before making another water drop on the Shirley Fire west of Wofford Heights, Calif. The Kern County Sheriff's Office has called for the evacuation of about 500 homes in the Wofford Heights area. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
An Erickson Air-Crane loads up from Isabella Lake Sunday, June 15, 2014 before making another water drop on the Shirley Fire west of Wofford Heights, Calif. The Kern County Sheriff's Office has called for the evacuation of about 500 homes in the Wofford Heights area. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
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This jet powered DC-10 air tanker #910 makes a long drop of fire retardant on the Shirley Fire, Saturday, June 14, 2014 in the Alta Sierra area where the wildfire has consumed more than 800 acres. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
This jet powered DC-10 air tanker #910 makes a long drop of fire retardant on the Shirley Fire, Saturday, June 14, 2014 in the Alta Sierra area where the wildfire has consumed more than 800 acres. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
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The Shirley Fire continues to burn Sunday, June 15, 2014 near Rancheria Road in the Alta Sierra area viewed from the Highway 178 area with the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and three crosses in the foreground in Lake Isabella, Calif. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
The Shirley Fire continues to burn Sunday, June 15, 2014 near Rancheria Road in the Alta Sierra area viewed from the Highway 178 area with the Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and three crosses in the foreground in Lake Isabella, Calif. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
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LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (AP) — A smoky wildfire burning near homes in the southern Sierra Nevada west of California's Lake Isabella was holding steady Monday and crews expected to make significant progress before hotter, drier weather sets in later in the week.

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 being pushed by gusty winds from the west came within a mile of the mountain community of Wofford Heights and authorities called on residents of about a thousand threatened homes to evacuate. Dozens of people stayed at a Red Cross shelter overnight, the Forest Service reported.

At least two structures have burned, fire spokesman Jay Nichols said.

The Shirley Fire was 10 percent contained, but officials said that number was expected to grow throughout the day.

The fire broke out Friday night in 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 doors into the night to urge residents to leave.

More than 1,100 firefighters were battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain at elevations around 2,500 feet within a popular outdoor recreation area. Aircraft were scooping water from Lake Isabella to use against the flames. Helicopters flew around the clock and crews were able to keep the fire from growing significantly overnight.

More crews were expected to join the fight. Authorities planned to keep the augmented crews working through a "swing shift" so they don't lose any time during shift changes to make progress, Forest Service spokeswoman Jennifer Chapman said.

"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," she said.

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



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