The Shirley Fire has grown to 2,000 acres and is 10% contained, according to the Sequoia National Forest Service.
Cindy Thill, a Forest Service spokesperson told 23ABC two homes were lost and one is damaged, while 1,000 more continue to be threatened.
The Kern County Fire Department announced it would be utilizing a helicopter to prevent the fire from spreading through the use of water drops, Sunday night.
The amount of acreage charred by the Shirley Fire more than doubled overnight to 2.8 square miles, according to Cindy Thill, from the U.S. Forest Service.
Prolonged drought and dry fuel conditions influenced fire behavior, which burned actively Saturday night in the Rattlesnake Creek drainage area, about a mile from Wofford Heights. The fire is also being pushed by a westerly wind and is influenced by the topography in the area, with conifers in the higher elevations and grass in the lower areas.
More than 500 homes were evacuated Saturday night in response to the Shirley Fire, according to the Kern County Sheriff's Office.
Authorities say residents in Pala Ranches, Juniper Highlands and homes between Old State Road and Evans Road on State Highway 155 are under a mandatory evacuation order. An advisory order is in place for the Alta Sierra area.
Housing for evacuees and their pets, preferably small animals, is being provided at the Kern River Valley Senior Center, 6405 Lake Isabella Boulevard. On Saturday night, the center housed 33 evacuees.
The Red Cross is currently working to on a large animal evacuation location, and anyone with the need to evacuate with a large animal is asked to visit the Kern Rivery Valley Senior Center.
The U.S. Forest Service also stated that the majority of the world class recreational opportunities in the Kern River Ranger District and the vicinity are unaffected by the fire activity and remain open. Motorists are encouraged to exercise extreme caution when drivind in the area due to firefighters and their respective equipment.
The Kern County Fire Department, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management said in a statement that the fire developed after vegetation in the area caught fire south of highway 155 and west of the community of Alta Sierra and south of Shirley Meadows on Rancheria Road, about 45 minutes northeast of Bakersfield at around 5 p.m. on Friday, June 13.
Four-hundred-fity firefighters are working hard to contain the fire.
According to the KCFD, some of the challenges facing the firefighters are shifting winds, high temperatures and very dry conditions.
A community meeting hosted by the Sequoia National Forest and the Kern County FIre Department will be held on Monday, June 16, at 7:00 p.m. at Faith Community Church, 20 West Panorama Dr. in Wofford Heights.
Several road closures have been ordered for the area, and include the following:
- Rancheria Road, from its intersection with highway 155 then south approximately eight miles to its intersection with Sawmill Road.
- Wagy Flat Road, from its intersection with Old State Road, then south for approximately three miles to the forest boundary in Section 10, Township 26 South, Range 32 East, Mount Diablo Base and Meridian.
- Sawmill Road, from its intersection with Rancheria Road, then east for approximately six miles to the forest boundary in Section 16, Township 26 South, Range 32 East, Mount Diablo Base and Meridian.
- Alder Creek Road, from Alder Creek Campground then south and east for approximately eight miles to its intersection with Rancheria Road.
- Highway 155 is closed at the intersection with Wofford Heights Boulevard. Residents living below Pala Ranches on the east side of the highway 155 may return to their homes. Residents living below Pala Ranches on the west side of the Highway 155 are not allowed to return to their homes at this time.
The U.S. Forest Service said that residents, owners and lessees of property are exempt from the closures, as long as the closure does not fall within an evacuation area. The road closures listed above remain on effect until through June 30.
Heavy smoke is drifting all around the Kern River Valley and residents with health problems are asked to stay indoors and out of the smoke. Kern County residents are also advised to sign up for ReadyKern.com or call 211 for updates.
Stay with us for more information as it becomes available.
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