Evacuations lifted in Kern River Valley wildfire

Evacuations lifted in Kern River Valley wildfire
LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Mandatory evacuations were lifted at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Kern River Valley as a wildfire continues to burn hundreds of acres.

The latest estimates put the fire at 385 acres and 70 percent containment, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

One cabin was destroyed by the so-called Gulch Fire, which threatened around 160 homes, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Cindy Thill said.

The Gulch Fire is burning off Highway 155 near the Lake Isabella Highlands and was first reported just before 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Mandatory evacuations were put in place Tuesday night for the Hungry Gulch subdivision and Isabella Highlands. An evacuation center was opened at the Kernville Elementary School and later changed to the the Lake Isabella Senior Center. A separate evacuation center for large animals was opened at the Kern County Animal Shelter, 14891 Highway 178 in South Lake.

Hwy. 155 was closed between Highway 178 and Tillie Creek in Wofford Heights but reopened late Tuesday night. However, officials warned it could close again at any time.

County fire officials said they hope to have the fire fully contained by Friday evening.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. However investigators have determined the fire started in the area of the French Gulch bridge. Anyone who witnessed suspicious activity Tuesday in the wildfire area is asked to call the Kern County fire tips line at 1-877-FIRETIP.

No injuries have been reported.