Evacuations ended as crews slow wildfire’s advance
LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (AP) – Fire officials on Thursday called off evacuation orders as a fierce air and ground attack helped them slow the advance of a forest fire burning more than 8,100 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada.
Officials put containment at 65 percent, with full containment expected Sunday.
The nearly 13-square-mile fire destroyed one home and threatened 250 more since breaking out last Sunday in the Lower Kern River Canyon southwest of Lake Isabella. Light winds aided the firefighting effort Wednesday as bulldozers carved firebreaks and crews set backfires to help stop the fire’s spread.
Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate earlier this week when heavy winds kicked up, pushing the flames to the southeast and closer to homes.
About 200 homes lost electricity because of burned power poles, but crews were hoping to have service restored Thursday.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in Kern County to free up state resources to battle the blaze. The Federal Emergency Management Agency also authorized the use of federal funds to help fight the blaze.
Authorities have said the fire was human-caused but have not determined whether it was an accident or intentional. Firefighting costs have reached $2.5 million.
Meanwhile in northwest Los Angeles County, firefighters made quick work of a pre-dawn 20-acre brush fire accidentally ignited by a vehicle along Interstate 5. Four firefighters reported minor injuries.