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Frazier Park fire: Wind blows flames away from homes

May 16, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
High winds carried flames from a wildfire near Frazier Park away from neighborhoods on Thursday, but residents are still concerned for their homes.

As of 6:30 p.m., the fire had charred 3,800 acres and was about 25 percent contained. Air support was able to get back in the air around 4 p.m. after being grounded for about two hours due to the erratic winds. The winds picked up late Thursday morning - a change from calmer conditions overnight in Kern County.

Evacuations remain in effect for Frazier Mountain High School, the Hungry Valley State Park and Piru Creek campgrounds. No other structures have been threatened.

The wind has pushed the fire away from homes in Frazier Park and Lebec and deep into the wilderness. Fire officials say any strategy in how to continue fighting the fire depends on the wind.

"Wind is always tricky," said Corey Wildford with Kern County Fire. "The tricky situation we have right now is that we have the wind coupled with really dry fuels that we've dealt with all winter long, we just didn't get the rain or snow in the area, so it really creates a really bad situation is where we are at."

With each gust of wind, the smoke climbs higher into the air. It's something Frazier Park residents are watching closely.

"I have five dogs and I also have a pet sitting business up there, so I'm taking care of other people's animals right now, so it's kind of scary," said area resident Marlene Ramirez.

Fire investigators have been combing the area where the fire started.

"Right now they're looking at the origin of the fire over off of Frazier Park Road, just outside the town of Frazier Park," said Wilford. "At this time we still have fire investigators on scene from various agencies, they're combing through the area right now, trying to piece together what maybe have happened."

The blaze, which broke out Wednesday afternoon at Frazier Mountain Park Road in the Los Padres National Forest, started at about 300 acres but quickly spread to 3,000 in just a few hours. Significant winds and dry brush helped push the fire along. Due to the steep and rugged terrain, firefighters had to rely heavily on air tankers to battle the blaze.

Resources from across the state are pouring into the region to protect property and to get a handle on the blaze. Six helicopters and several fixed-wing aircraft were part of the firefighting effort, along with 1,000 firefighters.

The show of force gives some residents comfort.

"These guys around here do an excellent job in this area, and they're on it," said Frazier Park resident Jim Stumph.

The resources will be in the area for a while. Even if the weather cooperates, it will take days and a lot of work to fully contain the fire.


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