California wildfire tamed New Mexico blaze surges

Comment: Off

Heavy smoke from the Shirley Fire above Wofford Heights, Calif., is seen Sunday, June 15, 2014. The Forest Service reported Sunday morning that the amount of acreage charred by the fire burning about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield more than doubled overnight to 2.8 square miles. The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has called for the evacuation of about 500 homes in the Wofford Heights area. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES; ONLINE OUT; TV OUT

Heavy smoke from the Shirley Fire above Wofford Heights, Calif., is seen Sunday, June 15, 2014. The Forest Service reported Sunday morning that the amount of acreage charred by the fire burning about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield more than doubled overnight to 2.8 square miles. The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has called for the evacuation of about 500 homes in the Wofford Heights area. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES; ONLINE OUT; TV OUT

The Shirley Fire kicks up smoke with the sun in the center in Wofford Heights, Calif., Sunday, June 15, 2014. The Forest Service reported Sunday morning that the amount of acreage charred by the fire burning about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield more than doubled overnight to 2.8 square miles. The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has called for the evacuation of about 500 homes in the Wofford Heights area. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie) MANDATORY CREDIT; MAGS OUT; NO SALES; ONLINE OUT; TV OUT

Firefighters take a sleep break Sunday, June 15, 2014 in Riverside Park in Kernville, Calif., after battling the Shirley Fire all night on the night shift. The wildfire has consumed more than 1800 acres and continues burning with several hundred personnel fighting the fire including hand crews, helicopters, and air tankers from multiple firefighting agencies. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie) MAGS OUT, TV OUT, NO SALES, MANDATORY CREDIT

An Erickson Air-Crane loads up from Isabella Lake Sunday, June 15, 2014 before making another water drop on the Shirley Fire west of Wofford Heights, Calif. The Kern County Sheriff’s Office has called for the evacuation of about 500 homes in the Wofford Heights area. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)

This jet powered DC-10 air tanker #910 makes a long drop of fire retardant on the Shirley Fire, Saturday, June 14, 2014 in the Alta Sierra area where the wildfire has consumed more than 800 acres. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)

Buy AP Photo Reprints

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (AP) — Residents were told they could return to some 1,000 mountain homes on the southern end of California’s Sierra Nevada range as firefighters stunted the growth of a smoky wildfire, one of several wildland blazes making problems for western states.

All evacuation orders were lifted Monday night after firefighters had the blaze near Lake Isabella west of Bakersfield 50 percent contained, U.S. Forest Service officials said.

The blaze has destroyed three houses, damaged another and forced hundreds to flee their homes. At least two of the burned houses appeared to be abandoned, the U.S. Forest Service said in a statement.

One other home was damaged by the fire, which charred more than 4 square miles of trees and brush in and around Sequoia National Forest and also threatened power lines and communications facilities.

On Tuesday, firefighters will look to build lines all the way around the blaze, and helicopter water drops and expected calm winds overnight could have them off to a strong start.

“We’re hoping we’re going to have some good news in the morning,” fire spokeswoman Cheryl Chipman said. “It’ll depend on how much they can get done and what the wind does.”

Meanwhile on the New Mexico-Arizona border, residents of two Native American communities were forced to leave their homes as strong winds fanned the flames of a wildfire burning in the Chuska Mountains.

The fire ballooned to more than 17 square miles, forcing Navajo Nation police to issue an evacuation order for parts of Naschitti and nearby Sheep Springs. About 400 people live in the area, and fire managers said more evacuations could be possible.

The fire was burning unchecked across dry pinon, juniper and brush. Gusts grounded all air support and hampered other efforts to directly attack the fast-moving flames.

“We just can’t afford to put anybody in front of this thing,” said fire spokeswoman Arlene Perea. “That’s the main thing: protecting life.”

Authorities did sweeps of sheep herding camps in the hills and evacuated some people. The fire has since burned through those areas, Perea said Monday.

As tribal police worked to notify residents whose homes are scattered among the hills, radio stations aired alerts and Naschitti chapter employees and others spread word of the approaching fire through social media. The chapter house and the community’s schools were evacuated Monday afternoon.

In northern Arizona, a 12-acre wildfire that broke out in Oak Creek Canyon was 25 percent contained. The fire that broke out Monday afternoon was just north of a blaze that charred 31 square miles last month in the scenic canyon between Sedona and Flagstaff.

Associated Press

Comments

comments

About the Author