Local News

Tuesday, Oct 18 2011 07:32 PM

Luck of the wind keeps Wofford Heights fire in check

By RACHEL COOK Californian staff writer rcook@bakersfield.com

Pat Dahlenburg said it's the luck of the wind that no homes were harmed Tuesday by a fire that scorched the land behind her neighbor's home in Wofford Heights.

"We get horrendous winds up here. I guess somebody up there was watching over us today because there was no wind," said Dahlenburg, who lives on Split Mountain Way.

At about 11:20 a.m., the Kern County Fire Department responded to a vegetation fire call in the 100 block of Split Mountain Way, north of Highway 155. The fire burned about 20 acres before firefighters contained it.

"If the wind changed it would have come down to a big enclave of homes," Kern County Fire Department spokesman Sean Collins said.

The fire was started by a local homeowner using a metal grinder. Collins said he did not know the name of the homeowner. One man suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation and one woman suffered from smoke inhalation while attempting to fight the fire. Both were taken to Kern Valley Medical Center.

About 150 firefighters from the Kern County Fire Department, Bureau of Land Management and US Forest Service battled the fire with air support by Kern County Fire Department helicopter 407, US Forest Service 522 and CAL FIRE.

Collins said a Forest Service firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion at the scene and released.

A ReadyKern reverse 911 call and Kern County Sheriff's deputies warned local residents of a potential evacuation. An evacuation center opened at the Senior Center in Lake Isabella, but closed at 3 p.m. Collins said no one went to the center.

Dahlenburg didn't even realize the fire was burning until a neighbor called and told her.

"I ran out and sure enough, the hillside was on fire," Dahlenburg said.

She said firefighters arrived quickly and the fire appeared to be "pretty well under control" as she spoke by phone Tuesday evening.

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