Precautionary evacuations being ordered for mountain community near Shirley Peak

Lightning strike is believed to be the cause

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Authorities in Kern County issued voluntary evacuation warnings for about 400 homes Monday as a lightning-caused wildfire burned through a popular vacation area in the southern Sierra Nevada.

County and U.S. Forest Service crews were battling the 400- to 500-acre blaze a mile or two from the communities of Slick Rock and Alta Sierra, fire officials said.

The flames were running downhill, pushed by 10- to 15-mph winds.

The area is at an elevation of about 5,700 feet in the mountains of Sequoia National Forest, about 35 miles northeast of Bakersfield and 110 miles north of Los Angeles.

Fire crews were struggling in a dry, rugged area of brush and timber amid continuing lightning strikes, Kern County Fire Engineer Leland Davis said.

"We're still getting lighting -- just all over," he said.

Temperatures in the area could top 100 degrees later in the day, he added.

The fire was one of at least four sparked Sunday night by dry lightning that hit the area around Lake Isabella, Davis said. Another burned about 20 acres.

Elsewhere, a chain of thunderstorms brought periods of heavy rain and flooding to the high desert. Davis said a mudslide swept a car off a road near Ridgecrest and lightning struck a fire station but no injuries were reported. Numerous palm trees and power poles were knocked down, he said.

Southern California Edison reported power outages caused by lightning strikes. By noon, about 2,000 people remained without power in widely scattered communities in the desert and mountain areas east, south and northeast of Los Angeles.

A chance of thunderstorms, with lightning, erratic winds and locally heavy rain, remained through the evening as a low-pressure system off the Central Coast brought monsoonal moisture into the region, the National Weather Service said.

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