Local News

Wednesday, Sep 15 2010 11:49 AM

Canyon Fire grows beyond 6,000 acres; structures threatened

BY JAMES BURGER, Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

Tom Klein opened the American Red Cross shelter in Lake Isabella 15 minutes after the Canyon fire topped the ridge above Bodfish Canyon and the evacuation order went out to residents north of Bodfish-Caliente Creek Road and Rocky Hill Road.

Klein started preparing to open the shelter, he said, "when I saw the fire was coming up the back of Bodfish Canyon."

For the first couple of hours the shelter, at the Lake Isabella Senior Center on Lake Isabella Boulevard, was quiet with only a couple people trickling in.

After 6 p.m. the evacuees started appearing in clumps.

In total, 27 people spent the night inside the shelter. A few dozen more spent the night in the parking lot of the shelter in their own trailers.

Wednesday morning the Salvation Army served breakfast to 33 people.

Klein said the people are anxious, worried about their homes in the canyon.

But he gets regular updates from fire personnel and has been able to keep the evacuees updated about conditions near their homes.

"At this time their homes are safe," Klein said.

And, right now, he doesn't expect to see more evacuations sending more people to his shelter.

But he said the fire could change his mind for him if it makes a run today.

Klein said, right now, he's just thankful the people of Kern County have donated the resources that allowed him to throw open the shelter doors Monday afternoon.

Kern County Fire officials reported that there is also a shelter open for evacuees at the community church in Twin Oaks on Caliente Creek Road.

As of Wednesday morning, the fire had grown to more than 6,000 acres and was 10 percent contained. More than 1,000 personnel were assigned to the fire, and 250 structures are threatened in the fire that began Sunday.

Road closures include Bodfish Canyon Road and Caliente Bodfish Road closed from Bodfish to Havilah, and Old Kern Canyon Road.

A community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Lake Isabella Senior Center.

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