The Shirley Fire near Sequoia National Park in central California continues to burn ferociously, having consumed over 2,000 acres since it began on Friday evening. Residents of 500 homes have been ordered to evacuate in the face of the fire, which remains only 10 percent contained. Firefighters are battling to gain control of the blaze before predicted hotter, drier weather arrives later in the week.
The wildfire is located about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield, near Lake Isabella on the edge of the Sequoia National Park. Fueled by hot, westerly winds and tinder-dry forest, the fire exploded on Saturday and nearly 1,200 firefighters have been called to the scene to battle the blaze in swing shifts. Planes dropped fire retardant along the fire front over the weekend, and helicopters were able to continue the work into the night.
In light of the fire’s ferocity and its north-easterly movement, evacuation notices were issued to 500 residences over the weekend. A Red Cross evacuation center has been opened in the community of Lake Isabella. It is understood two structures have already been destroyed by the blaze and at this stage the cause of the fire remains unknown.
Authorities say that most of the recreational areas in the Kern River Ranger District remain unaffected by the fire, but urge motorists in the district to exercise extreme caution due to the movement of firefighters and heavy equipment in the area. Updates on the fire’s progress are available on InciWeb.