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French Fire continues to grow covering 3,223 acres

"We want to save life, bottom line.”
French Fire, Lake Isabella, August 19, 2021
Posted at 9:37 PM, Aug 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-20 00:42:19-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The French Fire continues to burn more than a day after it started. The fire has now burned 3,233 acres and is at 5% containment. Kern County Fire confirmed that structures have burned down but the exact damage hasn’t been assessed yet.

“The fire seasons have just been dramatically increased over the past couple years as we’ve all seen and unfortunately had to witness,” Erica Bain with Kern County Fire Department.

Crews are working to clear the brush and helicopters continue to drop water on the flames. Kern County Fire said putting this out is a joint effort with them, the Bureau of Land Management, and the US Department of Forestry.

The French Fire is the second large fire in Kern County in the past month with the Peak Fire that burned in mid-July.

“It’s definitely unprecedented how many fires we’ve seen in the last two years especially across the state,” said Bain.

Bain said that with prolonged fire seasons like this, it’s important for residents in the area to be prepared to evacuate if needed.

“What the newest acreage has is that we have about 125 homes that we’re still looking at make sure that we’re protecting that are considered threatened. So, we want to make sure that we are keeping an eye on those areas with the new evacuation warning,” said Bain.

The red cross has set up an evacuation site at the Lake Isabella Senior Center. They have cots, food, bathrooms, and a safe shelter for people to say.

“We had four residents come to our evacuation center, they felt that they did not want to drive the canyon late at night, they were tired. Of course, they were a little bit worried, we provided some comfort to them, some hope. We gave them dinner, we had food and water,” said Cindy Huge with American Red Cross.

Some people also spent the night outside the center in their cars because the area was still safe. Kern County Fire said listening to authorities and following their recommendations is crucial.

“I just really appreciate communities coming together and understanding the importance of listening to law enforcement and fire agencies. I know sometimes it can be a hassle, ultimately it is for your safety and that’s what we want. We want to save life, bottom line,” said Bain.