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Early start to fire season puts strain on resources as firefighters battle French Fire

Posted at 11:20 AM, Aug 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-21 14:20:11-04

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KERO) — As the French Fire continues to burn in the Lake Isabella area from the fourth day, spreading to Alta Sierra and increasing to 11,295 acres, firefighters are feeling the strain of the early fire season.

"We're out here doing the best we can and keeping up with things," said Alex Olow, Public Information Officer for the U.S. Forest Service and Incident Management Team. "As far as the firefighters' fatigue, yes that is out there."

Olow said because of the early start to fire season in California this year, and the larger fires burning in the north, they're seeing resources slowly trickle in for the French Fire.

As of Saturday morning, officials said the east and southeast winds pushed the fire to the Shirley Peak area where it gained significant growth. Resources are in the Alta Sierra area to keep the fire from moving down into the communities in that area.

"It's just a continuing cycle, and we hope it slows down at some point but, yea, it can be tiring," Olow said.

As fire crews headed out Saturday, incident operations managers are focused on structure protection along the edge of Alta Sierra and keeping it from coming down into Wofford Heights.

"With the fuels being so dry due to years and years of drought, they're very receptive to any spot fires that are being thrown," said John Ownings, Operational Section Chief with Incident Management.

Ownings said the rest of the blaze has moved south, but not at a significant rate. He said the main driver of the fire is the southeast winds pushing up drainages in perfect alignment with the wind.

As far as the incident camp, Olow expects they will see more resources arriving throughout the day. While they await though, he said he's grateful for the response of the community to support them.

"The local restaurants in the area have been supporting us for the last couple of days with food which we definitely appreciate," Olow said.

The French Fire is at 5% containment as of Saturday morning.