Shirley Fire: Kern County wildfire grows to 500 acres (updated)

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Updated 6:30 p.m.: Mudslide closes Highway 178 near Kern County wildfire

Highway 178 is closed in both directions in the Kern River Canyon due to a mudslide, according to the sheriff's department's Facebook page.

Updated 3:05 p.m.: Road, camp closures in effect near Kern County wildfire

A wildfire burning in Kern County has prompted officials to close a series of roads mid-day Monday.

The Shirley Fire — which had burned about 500 acres as of early Monday afternoon — forced the closure of Alder Creek Road and Campground, Evans Flat Campground and Oak Flat Lookout, according to the sheriff's department's Facebook page.

In addition, Rancheria Road is closed at its junction with State Highway 178 in the south and State Highway 155 an the north end, according to the department.

Follow updates to the Shirley Fire using KPCC's FireTracker tool

Updated 12:52 p.m.: Kern County wildfire grows to 500 acres

A wildfire burning near 400 homes in the southern Sierra Nevada grew to 500 acres by mid-day Monday.

With 15 mph winds fanning the flames and steep, rugged terrain making it difficult for firefighters  to access, the fire was still burning out of control, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

No evacuation orders had been issued yet, but authorities warned residents of the Alta Sierra community, a popular resort destination, that they may be advised to leave.

The nearby Tenant fire was still estimated at 100 acres. The Tenant and Shirley fires were among four in the region that started with dry lightning strikes. 

11:32 a.m.: Kern County wildfire burning near 400 homes

A wildfire sparked by lightning prompted authorities to issue warnings for about 400 homes in the southern Sierra Nevada as wild weather elsewhere caused desert flooding and knocked out power to hundreds of people in Southern California.

The 400-acre Shirley Fire was burning in timberland a mile or two from Alta Sierra, a community of homes and vacation cabins near the Alta Sierra ski resort, Kern County Fire Engineer Leland Davis told the Associated Press.

The fire was moving downhill but residents were told to be ready to move if a wind change pushed flames back toward them, Davis said.

The popular vacation area is about 5,700 feet high in the mountains of Sequoia National Forest, about 35 miles northeast of Bakersfield and 110 miles north of Los Angeles.

Fire crews were struggling in a dry, rugged area amid continuing lightning strikes and 15 mph winds, Davis said.

"We're still getting lightning — just all over," he said.

Temperatures in the area could top 100 degrees later in the day, he added.

The fire is one of at least four sparked Sunday night by dry lightning that hit the area around Lake Isabella, Davis said. The Tenant fire has burned 100 acres, and another had burned about 20 acres.

Elsewhere, a chain of thunderstorms brought periods of heavy rain and flooding to the high desert. Davis said a mudslide swept a car off a road near Ridgecrest and lightning struck a fire station but no injuries were reported. Numerous palm trees and power poles were knocked down, he said.

Southern California Edison reported power outages caused by lightning strikes. By Monday morning, more than 2,500 people remained without power in widely scattered communities in the desert and mountain areas east, south and northeast of Los Angeles.

A chance of thunderstorms, with lightning, erratic winds and locally heavy rain, remained through the evening as a low-pressure system off the Central Coast brought monsoonal moisture into the region, the National Weather Service said.


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With contributions by Brian Frank

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