Erskine Fire update: Some precipitation has helped

Listen to this article

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, June 29, the Erskine Fire has now consumed 46,684 acres. It is 60 percent contained.

The BLM reports that varying amounts of precipitation helped dampen the fire, making it mostly smoldering and creeping. But high winds are expected into the evening hours, although there is also a 20 percent chance of rain this evening. There could also be dry lightning strikes as well.

Although the closures are still in effect, there are no evacuation orders in force. There is a Homeowner Re-Entry Plan, according to local authorities. In a statement the BLM and Kern County said, “Residents can return to their homes with ID for proof of residency. Kern County’s Office of Emergency Services’ transition center is open to support the needs of recently evacuated residents who are now returning to their homes. The center is located at Woodrow W. Wallace Middle School at 3240 Erskine Creek Rd. in Lake Isabella. Normal hours of operation will be from 9 am to 6 pm.”

Residents of Kern County express their gratitude (Inciweb)
Residents of Kern County express their gratitude (Inciweb)

The two Red Cross shelters are still in place until further notice. They are:

  1. St. Jude’s Catholic Church
    86 Nellie Dent Dr.
    Wofford Heights
  2. Kernville Elementary School
    13350 Sierra Way

The Red Cross Safe & Well site is available for those looking for loved ones affected by evacuations:

The two fatalities confirmed in the fire have been identified; husband and wife Byron and Gladys McKaig. He had been an Anglican minister. They were found at the edge of their property, apparently caught while trying to escape the inferno. Neither was burned and it appeared Byron was shielding his wife from the flames.

The fire is expected to be contained July 5.

•••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

THE SAN GABRIEL COMPLEX FIRES: The Reservoir Fire is now 96 percent contained, having consumed 1,146 acres. The Fish Fire is 88 percent contained with 4,253 acres burned.

From the Inciweb report, from Wednesday morning:

Highway 39 will re-open at 6:00 p.m. today, June 29, 2016.

Fireworks are illegal on public lands: every forest, every campsite, every day. Fire restrictions are in effect and Angeles National Forest Order No. 01-16—04 is in effect regarding the use of campfires, smoking, firearms and welding.

The remaining segments of fireline are in the final stage of being completed and crews that were “spiked” out are returning. Crews continue suppression repair along the fire and contingency lines. The repairs include installing water or erosion control ditches called “water bars”. The water bars channel water away from the burned area to help prevent erosion.

A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team has been ordered for the San Gabriel Complex. BAER is the rapid assessment of burned watersheds to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural resources or cultural resources on affected lands. Fires result in loss of vegetation, exposure of soil to erosion risks, and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding, increased sediment, debris flows, or damage to critical natural and cultural resources.

When drones interfere with firefighting efforts, a wildfire has the potential to grow larger and cause more damage. On the San Gabriel Complex­­, an FAA Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) is in effect and any private aircraft or drone that violates the TFR could face serious criminal charges. Even without a TFR, anyone who hampers firefighting efforts could face charges­­­. For more information on drones the public can visit the FAA’s website at “If you fly, we can’t!­”

Please take personal responsibility and prepare long before the threat of a wildland fire so your home is ready in case of a fire. Create defensible space by clearing brush away from your home. Use fire-resistant landscaping and harden your home with fire-safe construction measures. Assemble emergency supplies and belongings in a safe place. Plan escape routes and make sure all those residing within the home know the plan of action. Pack your emergency items. Stay aware of the latest news and information on the fire from local media, your local fire department and public safety. Follow your personal wildland fire action plan. Doing so will not only support your safety, but will allow firefighters to best maneuver resources to combat the fire.

The Reservoir and Fish Fires began on June 20th as separate incidents. The cause of the Reservoir Fire was due to a vehicle crash with a fatality while the cause of the Fish Fire is still under investigation. The fires were burning in fuel that was 7 – 10 years old with 6 to 8-foot chaparral and large grass crop. The Reservoir Fire grew that first day to 1200 acres. The Fish Fire grew to 3700 acres and threatened homes. Initial concerns ware that the two fires would merge into one fire. Fire crews established and provided for structure defense. No homes or structures have been damaged.

•••• •••• ••••• •••• ••••

BORDER FIRE UPDATE: The San Diego Sheriff’s Office has confirmed two fatalities as a result of the fire. Although the coroner has yet to identify the couple, neighbors said they know the two victims.

The fire is now 95 percent contained.