Shirley Fire grows to 2,200 acres in Calif, hundreds evacuated from Wofford Heights, Alta Sierra

1,000 homes threatened

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A smoky wildfire burning near homes in the southern Sierra Nevada west of California's Lake Isabella was holding steady Monday and crews expected to make significant progress before hotter, drier weather sets in later in the week.

Firefighters using air tankers and helicopters were battling the blaze, which has charred about 3.4 square miles of trees and brush in and around the Sequoia National Forest.

Flames being pushed by gusty winds from the west came within a mile of the mountain community of Wofford Heights and authorities called on residents of about a thousand threatened homes to evacuate. Dozens of people stayed at a Red Cross shelter overnight, the Forest Service reported. 

Officials said the fire grew to the north and the east from Sunday night. Water drops overnight helped slow the growth.

More than 1,100 firefighters were battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain at elevations around 2,500 feet within a popular outdoor recreation area. Aircraft were scooping water from Lake Isabella to use against the flames. Helicopters flew around the clock and crews were able to keep the fire from growing significantly overnight.

Cindy Thill, a Forest Service spokesperson told 23ABC two homes were lost and one was damaged, while 1,000 more continue to be threatened.

More than 500 homes were evacuated Saturday night in response to the Shirley Fire, according to the Kern County Sheriff's Office. 

Authorities said residents in Pala Ranches, Juniper Highlands and homes between Old State Road and Evans Road on State Highway 155 are under a mandatory evacuation order. An advisory order is in place for the Alta Sierra area. 

The U.S. Forest Service also stated that the majority of the recreation in the Kern River Ranger District and the vicinity are unaffected by the fire activity and remain open. Motorists are encouraged to exercise extreme caution when driving in the area due to firefighters and equipment.

 

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