2 Wildfires Prompt Evacuations

8 Homes, 15,000 Acres Burned In Sequoia National Forest

Firefighters are scrambling to keep up with two California wildfires.

Firefighters said they've partially surrounded a wildfire in Kern County that has burned at least 30 homes and is threatening about 150 others. Another fire in Sequoia National Forest has burned eight homes and six outbuildings but no other homes were in immediate danger.

The blaze known as the West Fire, 10 miles south of Tehachapi, is one of the two that have forced about 2,300 people to evacuate homes.

County fire Engineer Dustin Allegranza said the 1,400-acre fire was 25 percent contained Wednesday morning.

The fire erupted Tuesday about 10 miles south of Tehachapi and threatens the entire town of Old West Ranch, a remote and scattered community in the eastern foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains.

Another blaze, the Bull fire, has burned 15,586 acres just north of Kernville, and was 5 percent contained Wednesday. The blaze has destroyed eight homes and six outbuildings in the community of Riverkern.

Residents of Riverkern and the Camp Owen juvenile detention facility were evacuated. The area of Burlando and Burma roads near Kernville and the community of Riverkern are under mandatory evacuations, Kern County fire officials said.

Evacuees were being told to go to the Lake Isabella Senior Center until further notice.

About 1,100 fire personnel from Kern County Fire, Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service are on the scene to fight the fire, as well as 12 firefighting helicopters and seven air tankers.

The fire is burning in grass and brush on both sides of the Kern River, north of Kernville. Crews working on the northern flank of the fire, to the west of the Kern River, were pulled back Tuesday afternoon due to a significant increase in fire activity, Pete Jankowski, an information officer with the Interagency Incident Management Team, said.

Efforts to construct fire line along the southern perimeter were successful, hence the five percent containment, and crews worked through the night to strengthen these lines. Crews also worked through the night to clean up islands of unburned fuels between the river and Mountain Highway 99.

Two firefighters have been injured, but both are considered to be minor.

The Kern chapter of the American Red Cross is asking for cash donations to help provide food, water, shelter, comfort kits and teddy bears.

On Wednesday, crews will construct a fire line directly along the southern, south-western and south-eastern perimeter of the fire’s edge, Jankowski said. Air support will be provided for all resources working on the ground. Mop-up activities will continue around structures in Kernville and River Kern, to ensure that no hot spots remain around these areas. Increased winds may occur over the fire area today, with a slight possibility of afternoon thunderstorms.

The blaze started at about 1:45 p.m. Monday in Bull Run Creek, about three miles north of Kernville.

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