500 evacuations in Kern Valley as wildfire spreads

500 evacuations in Kern Valley as wildfire spreads

 KERN RIVER VALLEY, Calif.--Kern County Sheriff's deputies evacuated more than 500 homes in the Kern River Valley Saturday night as a wildfire continued to spread into Sunday.  Road closures are also in place.  

The Shirley Fire broke out late Friday afternoon and has grown to 1800 acres as of Sunday morning. Numerous viewers sent in photos of heavy smoke and residents with respitory problems are being urged to stay indoors. 

Residents who need shelter are being housed by the Red Cross at the Lake Isabella Senior Center at 6405 Lake Isabella Blvd. where volunteers will provide lodging, food, comfort kits and more, said spokesperson Jessica Piffero.   Thirty-three people stayed at the shelter Saturday night.

The following National Forest roads are closed:  Rancheria Road from its intersection with Hwy 155 then south approximately 8 miles to Sawmill Road; Wagby Flat Road from Old State Road then south for about 3 miles to the forest boundary; Sawmill Road from Rancheria Road then east six miles to the forest boundary, and Alder Creek Road from Alder Creek campground south and east for 8 miles to Rancheria Road. 

Highway 155 is closed at the intersection with Wofford Heights Blvd.  Residents living below Pala Ranches on the east side of Hwy 155 may return to their homes. Residents living below Pala Ranches on the west side of Hwy. 155 are not allowed to return to their homes at this time.

According to the U.S. Forest Service, residents, owner, lessees of property are exempt from the closure as long as the closure does not fall within an evacuation area.  

Smoke will continue to be an issue in the area and residents who suffer from adverse health affects due to smoke are encouraged to check with their health care provide

Eyewitness News will continue to monitor and provide updates.