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Kern County fire likely sparked by lightning grows to 2,300 acres, could threaten Interstate-5

A fire likely sparked by lightning in Kern County and burning near Interstate 5 has grown to 2,300 acres and was 20% contained as of Thursday morning, officials said. official said.

“Our concern today is if it continues westward toward I-5,” said Kern County Fire Captain Andrew Freeborn, the agency’s public information officer. “Some parts of the fire were located a few hundred meters from the highway. … We’re trying to keep it from going to Grapevine, we don’t want travel to be affected. “

Right now, he said, the Thunderstorm fire – located southeast of Interstate 5 and Edmonston Pumping Plant Road – is billowing smoke around the freeway.

The fire added about 500 acres overnight, but crews were able to increase containment by about 10 percent, according to the Kern County Fire Department, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

Emergency crews responded to several lightning fires that began Wednesday after inclement weather from the humid monsoon swept the area, but the Thunderstorm fire appeared to be the only one still burning.

Lightning on Wednesday also killed a woman and her two dogs in Pico Rivera, where they were walking when a major storm made landfall.

Freeborn said officials in Kern County hope Thursday’s weather cooperates so firefighters can step up to contain the blaze further.

“The conditions yesterday were not very favorable for fire fighting,” Freeborn said. “Not only did we have all the lightning, … but that storm generated very strong winds and we still had really high temperatures.”

He said they recorded sustained winds of up to 30 mph on Wednesday, but forecasts look more favorable for Thursday. However, his team is monitoring another weather system that could affect the area.

“Anytime you have a weather front going through, you’re going to have winds that come with it, so we’re monitoring it very carefully,” Freeborn said.

He said the terrain around the fire – mostly steep with bushes – also made it difficult for firefighters. About 250 firefighters are still at the scene.

“It was hard work and the terrain was really steep,” Freeborn said. “Firefighting efforts right now are still focused on containing the fire, getting it under control.”

It is unlikely the agency will be able to determine the cause of the fire until it is fully under control, he said.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-23/kern-county-fire-sparked-lightning-keeps-growing-could-threaten-interstate Kern County fire likely sparked by lightning grows to 2,300 acres, could threaten Interstate-5

Edmund DeMarche

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