UPDATE (AUGUST 30, 2021): The French Fire, started on Wednesday, August 18, west of Lake Isabella in Kern County, has now burned 25,264 acres with 26 percent containment. The fire is being managed by California Interagency Incident Management Team 12, coordinating closely with the Bureau of Land Management, Sequoia National Forest, and Kern County Fire Department in Unified Command.
The French Fire, started on Wednesday, August 18, west of Lake Isabella in Kern County, has now burned 22,916 acres with 19 percent containment. The fire is being managed by California Interagency Incident Management Team 12, coordinating closely with the Bureau of Land Management, Sequoia National Forest, and Kern County Fire Department in Unified Command.
- The fire remains active on the north side threatening communities and associated values at risk in the immediate area: including the Shirley Peak communication hub and the Southern California Edison 66kV sub-transmission lines north of State Route 155. Structure defense is in place.
- Fire in the southwestern area is currently at Rancheria/Sawmill Road junction but could reach the Whites Mill Road by later tonight.
- Relative humidity is predicted to be 13-19 percent after 9 p.m. West winds are predicted to be 9-15 mph gusting to 25 mph through 8 p.m. This could extend the burn period deeper into the night/early morning. Predicted single-digit relative humidity will contribute to a longer burning period. Humidity may remain below 20 percent in this area throughout. Temperatures will be at or above 100 degrees in the lower elevations.
The American Red Cross has opened up a third shelter for those fleeing the French Fire as more Kern County residents are placed under an evacuation warning. This is the third shelter that is available to residents.
The new location is at Pioneer Elementary School in Delano. The other shelters are located on the other side of the fire at Woodrow Wallace Elementary School and the Kern River Valley High School. Residents are encouraged to bring things such as prescriptions and extra clothing and hygiene supplies.
According to the Kern County Fire Department, 22,030 acres have burned so far. Containment has remained at 19 percent for the past few days. Fire officials have given an estimated date for near full containment of September 7th. Officials have also determined the fire was caused by human activity and is suspicious in nature.
French Fire has been determined as being human caused
Despite evacuation warnings due to the fire Kern Valley High School is still open to students. The middle and elementary schools are closed. 23ABC spoke to a student that knows people who have been evacuated from their homes and she's concerned that they could fall behind in their classes.
“But a lot of the kids are in shelters like at the school because the school is one of the biggest shelters for the fire and a lot of kids aren’t coming to school and with that, a lot of people are going to fall behind just generally especially because it’s the beginning of the year," said Kern River Valley High School senior Gracielynn Surico. "It's really difficult to stay caught up when you are missing I don’t know how much school this close to the beginning of the year."
Law enforcement urges residents to evacuate
Throughout the firefighting, effort crews have urged residents to leave the area once an evacuation order is issued. This is despite residents saying they want to defend their homes.
The state's office of emergency services released numbers of those who have been evacuated across the state due to wildfires. As of Thursday afternoon, the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) says 3,600 people have been evacuated in Kern County. That's out of over 34,000 people that have left their homes due to wildfires across California.
Crews are continuing to stress how important it is to leave the area when asked to evacuate.
"The fire may not come into that area but if it does come into that area we know that you are safe and we know that we can engage in firefighting and hopefully protect those homes instead of redirecting to rescue missions," said Kern County Fire Department Public Information Officer Sean Collins.
Residents that 23ABC spoke with say they're staying because they don't have fire insurance.
Meanwhile, the Kern County Animal Shelter has been working with the American Red Cross to help ensure everyone's pets are kept safe while in shelters. They're now asking for the communities help.
The shelter says they need medium and large dog harnesses as well as clip leashes for pets that have been evacuated. They also need carabiners of all sizes.
If you can donate any of these you are asked to drop them off at their Bakersfield location at 3951 Fruitvale Avenue.
As wildfires across the state destroy California communities some Northern California educators are asking for the community's aid in helping to rebuild.
Sacramento educators have launched the California Kids Fire Relief. The two-week initiative is encouraging residents to provide financial and emotional support to those impacted by fires.
You can donate gift cards to the Sacramento County Office of Education or donate money at a secure link online.
If you don't want to send any money you can send letters of support to the Sacramento Office of Education as well at 10474 Mather Blvd, Mather, CA 95655.