Evacuations lifted for West Fire; containment expected soon

Evacuations lifted for West Fire; containment expected soon

TEHACHAPI, Calif. -- Good weather Friday helped firefighters build containment lines around two wildfires that destroyed homes in Kern County earlier in the week.

All evacuation orders were lifted effective noon Friday for the West Fire. The 2½-square-mile blaze near Tehachapi was 85 percent contained after burning about 63 buildings, of which 23 were homes, in a scattered community called Old West Ranch.

The Kern County Fire Department put together a map of the West Fire.

A residential assistance group was set up at Dennison and Summers drives to provide information and assistance for homeowners who have been impacted. Services include helping residents to their homes, guidelines for temporary power outage, disinfecting wells after an emergency, financial voucher to assist with food and fuel, and mental health services.

The U-Haul Company of Fresno on Thursday offered 30 days of free storage for those impacted by the wildfires. For more information, people are asked to contact the U-Haul center at 6201 White Lane in Bakersfield.

See a gallery of photos from the West Fire, many of which were sent in by Eyewitness News viewers.

The wildfire erupted Tuesday afternoon and rapidly swept through an area where Kern County fire authorities say there is no history of any fires on record, meaning vegetation hadn't burned there in more than a century.

To the north, a fire that destroyed eight residences and a few outbuildings as it spread across about 26 square miles of the Sequoia National Forest near Riverkern and Kernville was 65 percent contained, authorities said.

See also photos from this week's Bull Fire in the Kern River Valley.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency earlier in the week for Kern County as a result of the West Fire and the Kern River Valley's Bull Fire.

Full containment on the Tehachapi-area fire was expected Saturday, according to an interagency news release issued Friday. More than 1,200 crew members were being assisted by seven water-dropping aircraft.

Conditions continued to be very fluid and could change quickly based on the weather, officials warned.

The threat to the electrical infrastructure for the city of Tehachapi and the wind generators has diminished, they said.

Authorities believe the "West Fire" was caused by a person, and they believe they have pinned down its point of origin. No suspects or specific cause have been identified, however.

This story contains information from Eyewitness News staff and The Associated Press Reporter Jacob Adelman.