A ‘UFO’ Sighting and A 640-Acre Fire

By Patric Hedlund, with added
reporting by Gary Meyer

Fire season is living up to its name. Two weeks ago there was a wildfire in Frazier Park. Last Sunday, June 12 there were fires near the IKEA store in the Tejon Industrial Complex at the northern base of the Grapevine and another in Los Padres Estates.

Barry and Rosetta Burgelin of Pine Mountain Auto Center thought they’d seen a UFO sailing from the area of the Grapevine over San Emigdio Canyon toward Pine Mountain. They looked more closely and noticed it was a Mylar balloon, possibly coming from the Grapevine area. That was about 5 p.m., they said.

A Mylar balloon caught in an electrical transmission line near the IKEA store is thought to have caused arcing sparks that caused a 640-acre grass fire.

The Kern County Fire Department responded to the fire west of Interstate 5 at 4:53 p.m. KCFD, the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service resources included two water-dropping helicopters, two air tankers, the fixed-wing KCFD air attack craft 490, three fire crews and engines, two water tenders and two dozers. Sheriffs Department and California Highway Patrol assisted in traffic control.

Matt R adis and Kevin McDonnell, both of Lebec, called in “Breaking News” reports to The Mountain Enterprise after seeing and smelling the smoke.

It took five hours, but crews contained the fire to 640 acres. No injuries were reported.

The only loss was the power pole and grass.

Burgelin wonders if some – one released a group of Mylar balloons near the truck stops and restaurants.

Then, at about 8:20 p.m. that same day a resident of Los Padres Estates reported he accidentally started a fire while mowing his lawn. It was put out by 8:35 p.m.

These events are a powerful reminder of how easily fires can start in this area as the temperatures rise.

Lot Clearance is Due

June 15 was the deadline for owners to clear their properties of all fire hazards. This year the K ern County Fire Department warns that it will be very strict, with “enhanced enforcement” for those who fail to clear their properties. Fines of $500-$1000 may be levied for citations.

“Help us keep you safe,” Sean Collins of K ern County Fire Department said, noting that numerous homes were saved last year because own – ers had cleared their lots.

This is part of the June 17, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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