Firefighters gaining ground on Kern County wildfire

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (AP) -- Firefighters working in 100 degree-plus heat gained ground Saturday in containing a wind-whipped wildfire that burned six buildings in the high desert of Kern County.

The blaze, which doubled in size on Friday, had destroyed 540 acres of brush but was about 90 percent contained by early evening, said Margie Clack, spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service.

A voluntary evacuation order for 120 homes near Lake Isabella was lifted and two campgrounds reopened, she said. A six-mile stretch of state Highway 155 also was reopened.

About 500 firefighters and five water-dropping helicopters reinforced containment lines and doused hot spots. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

"Things are looking good if the weather cooperates," Kern County fire Capt. Doug Johnston said.

Temperatures that topped 100 degrees and light winds hampered efforts but Johnson estimated the fire would be surrounded by Sunday morning.

The blaze destroyed six structures, including a house, a small cabin, a mobile home, barn, shed and trailer.

The fire was burning northeast of Lake Isabella and about 150 miles north of Los Angeles.

The area east of Bakersfield is popular for recreation throughout the summer, but fast-spreading wildfires are also common. Last year, fires destroyed 30 homes and covered a total of 5,000 acres.


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