Image: A Kern County firefighters keeps an eye on a backburn operation
Casey Christie  /  AP
A Kern County firefighter keeps an eye on a backburn operation Wednesday in Lake Isabella, Calif. A wildfire in the southern Sierra Nevada has forced evacuations in some communities along the Lower Kern River Canyon.
updated 9/16/2010 8:26:00 PM ET 2010-09-17T00:26:00

Fire officials have called off evacuation orders after a fierce air and ground attack helped them slow the advance of a nearly 13-square-mile forest fire in the southern Sierra Nevada.

Officials put containment at 65 percent. Full containment is expected Sunday.

The fire has destroyed one home and threatens 250 more since breaking out Sunday southwest of Lake Isabella.

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.

    1. Hoffman withdrew $1,200 hours before death: sources

      Philip Seymour Hoffman withdrew a total of $1,200 from an ATM at a supermarket near his New York City apartment the night before he was found lifeless in his bathroom with a syringe still in his left arm, sources told NBC News.

    2. NYC mayor will skip St. Pat's parade over gay ban
    3. Indiana man back home 18 years after abduction
    4. 32 states in the path of another wild storm
    5. Judge vows quick ruling on Va. marriage ban

Light winds aided the firefighting effort Wednesday as bulldozers carved firebreaks and crews set backfires to help stop the fire's spread.

About 200 homes lost electricity because of burned power poles, but crews were hoping to have service restored Thursday.

Two shelters for displaced residents were set up and officials held a community meeting Wednesday night for about 200 residents to help. Thill said residents were told they could probably return home in a couple of days.

Neighbors David Feltner and Dennis Fluhart, who live near the mountain community of Havilah, were relieved to find their homes still standing Wednesday and four horses in a pen uninjured.

  1. Most popular

"The fire crews are doing a bang up job," Feltner told the Bakersfield Californian.

Fluhart said his dad, Jim Fluhart, who lives nearby, has an antique fire truck with a water cannon that he had ready to defend his home. "He wasn't going to give it up," Dennis Fluhart said.

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.

Story: 2010 seeing hot temps, less Arctic sea ice

It's the second major fire in the region this summer. The Bull Fire burned more than 16,000 acres north of Lake Isabella in July and August, destroying eight homes and six outbuildings.

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.

County fire Inspector Matt Levesque says 200 firefighters, three helicopters, a helitanker and two SuperScooper planes responded to the 5:07 a.m. Thursday fire.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Interactive: Wildfire tracker


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments