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Rachelle Black caught this air-tanker dropping retardant near her home in Digier Canyon on Friday, July 19.
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Kern County Fire Department engine 55 pulls quickly away from flames which had charged up the slope below Digier Canyon Road, just a moment before the fire jumped the road. [photo by Gary Meyer, The Mountain Enterprise]
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Aaron Rose sent this shot of the fire prior to arrival of fire crews.
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Within less than a minute of the flames reaching Digier Canyon Road, the fire spotted across the road into dry brush. [photo by Gary Meyer, The Mountain Enterprise]
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Monday, July 22 at 8:08 P.m.)— The Kern County Fire Department has issued this statement this evening. It definitely reads like a ‘winding down’ summary. To see more about the actual fire, read from the bottom of this page up, to see the first reports.
KCFD: This will be the last update for the Rancho fire in the Digier Canyon area. At July 19, 2013 at approximately 12 p.m. Kern County Fire Department received a call for a wild land fire beginning at call box 563 near Fort Tejon. When crews arrived on scene, they were faced with a fast moving fire the scorched up to 712 acres. Multiple agencies assisted with this fire which included CalFire, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, California Parks Services, Ventura County Fire, Merced County Fire, LA County Fire, CHP, KCSO, Cal Trans and PG&E.
A local interagency type three incident management team has been implemented to manage the fire by using local agreements in order to reduce fire suppression costs. With the team and crews in place, no structures were lost and residents were able to return home safe and roads were able to open in a decent amount of time.
Our local type 3 team would like to thank all the agencies for their
hard work in containing this fire and we give special thanks to El Tejon Middle School for letting our team and crews use their facilities. A special thank you for staff Kevin Boyle and crew for assisting us in setting up the facilities. To our contract companies Denny’s, Iron Skillet and Tony’s Pizza for providing us with all our food needs and to our local rentals Santana and Premier rentals for providing us our camp needs to keep our crews going.
In summary we have managed to keep cost down and provide the citizens of Kern County with an effective and proficient fire management organization.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Monday, July 22 at 8:39 a.m.)—Last night crews continued to patrol the lines. Late night precipitation assisted in containment efforts with potential for more today. Today crews will continue mopping up 100 plus feet into the perimeter as well continue rehab efforts. Rehab today will include the back hauling of equipment used to suppress the fire. A transition from the current Type 3 management team to a Type 4 team is expected for tomorrow. Containment is expected on Wednesday 7/24 and full control on Thursday at 6:00 p.m.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Sunday, July 21 at 6:39 p.m.)—Today’s summary of progress in containing the Rancho fire is as follows: At approximately 12:00 PM on July 19th 2013, the Kern County Fire Department received a call for a vegetation fire near call box 563 near Tejon off ramp. On arrival, firefighters were faced with a fast moving fire burning in light grass; heavy brush and oak along side the southbound lanes of I-5. Additional firefighting resources were requested from the Bureau of Land Management, Cal Fire, Los Angeles County Fire, and the U.S.Forest Service. The Rancho Firehas burned approximately 722 acres and is 92% contained. The fire had potential to grow however with additional air resources firefighters have been able to halt the forward progression of the fire. 26 structures were originally threatened at OakKnolls Road at Digier Canyon Road, but with the assistance of 4 air tankers,five helicopters, 3 dozers and over five hundred firefighters the community was saved. A local interagency type three incident management team has been implemented to manage the fire by using local agreements in order to reduce fire suppression costs. With favorable conditions, full containment of the fire is expected on Wednesday and full control by Thursday at 6 p.m. Assistance is being received from the Kern County Sheriff’s Department, the California HighwayPatrol, Southern California Edison, Parks, Caltrans, Merced County and Ventura County. The cause of the fire is under investigation
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Sunday, July 21 at 9:15 a.m.)—In a joint statement issued by firefighting agencies, the Rancho fire was reported to be 90% contained. The following summary was provided this morning: Crews are working continuously on improving the lines around the fire. There are some areas where air resources are needed due to steep terrain. While trying to continue improvement of the line, fire crews have been working on rehabilitation for the area. Rehab consists of repairing disturbed soil caused by fire damage and suppression activities. This is a vital part of the overall operation to ensure the sustainability of the forest watershed, to diminish the potential for debris flow and to help mitigate the introduction of invasive weed species.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Saturday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.)—Kern County Fire Department said in its evening update on the Rancho fire that the blaze is 85% contained, as of 6 p.m. The summary issued by KCFD, Calfire, USFS and BLM is as follows: Today crews were able to continue to construct and hold line around portions of the fire. Due to steep terrain some portions were un-accessible by ground and had to be mitigated by air resources Tonight crews will continue to improve, contain and patrol the perimeter of the fire. Evacuations have been lifted and all roads are open. Fire officials are asking all residents to proceed with caution while returning to their homes.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Saturday, July 20 at 9:40 a.m.)—Kern County Fire Department reported this morning that the Rancho fire is 65% contained. “Last night fire crews made great head way in building line around the fire. Today crews will continue suppression, containment and continuing to mop up. Structure protection will remain in place at the Oak Knolls area of Digier Canyon. State Park will be closed until further notice.” Over 720 acres have burned. Here are the statistics from KCFD:
Location: Call Box 563 at Fort Tejon Start Date & Time: July19, 2013 12:00 P.M
Acres: 720 Containment:% 65 Expected Containment: UNK
Structure value saved: N/A Structure value destroyed by fire: N/A
EMERGENCY EQUIPMENT ASSIGNED:
Engines: 17 Trucks: Patrols: 0 Other Equip: 0
Airtankers: 4 Helicopters: 5 Water Tenders: 4 Bulldozers: 3
Fire Crews: 12 Overhead: 29 Total Personnel: 502
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Saturday, July 20 at 6:30 a.m.)—Containment figures reported by information officer Andrew Madsen of the Los Padres National Forest on the U.S.Forest Service Incident Information System site are in conflict with those of the Kern County Fire Department. Madsen is reporting on InciWeb that the Rancho Fire is 25% contained and the KCFD reported last night that the Rancho fire in Digier Canyon is 56% contained. Madsen is also reporting that the fire began at 2 p.m. The Mountain Enterprise began reporting about the fire shortly after noon on Friday, July 19. Morning briefings are occurring currently and we will provide an update from the Kern County Fire Department as soon as it is available.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 9:39 p.m.)—Containment for what is now known as the Rancho fire is set at 56% this evening, according to an update released by the Kern County Fire Department. “Tonight crews will continue to construct line around the fire and continue to provide structure protection at Oak Knolls Road in Digier Canyon Road,” they said, adding that 23 structures are threatened and 730 acres have now been burned.
The fire started just south of Fort Tejon, near a pullout for overheated cars on the Grapevine (Interstate 5) along the shoulder of the southbound lanes.
Four air tankers and three helicopters are assigned to the fire, with 24 engines and four water tenders in place. No structures have been lost and no injuries have been reported. Three bulldozers are working. The number of personnel assigned to the fire has risen to 406. Agencies involved now include the U.S. Forest Service, L.A. County Fire, Kern County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, CalTrans, California State Parks, CalFire and Kern County Fire Department.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 5:42 p.m.)—Four air tankers and three helicopters are currently working the fire, along with three bulldozers, nine engines, five patrol trucks and 182 firefighters. No containment has been announced or projected as yet.
Kern County Fire Department released this statement about what they are now calling the Rancho fire: Upon arrival fire crews faced a fast moving fire in heavy brush that threatened homes in the Oak Knolls Road in Digier Canyon. Smoke conditions are extremely bad which affected southbound lanes on the Interstate 5. Approximately 182 firefighters are battling this blaze which includes U.S. Forest Service, L.A. County Fire Service and CalFire. Strike teams of type 3 engines were dispatched for structure protection. Approximately 23 homes were evacuated. The evacuation center will be located at Gorman School at 49847 Gorman School Rd.
Currently there is no containment.
The cause of the fire is under investigation
The data sheet says the fire started at Call Box 563 at Fort Tejon at about noon and has burned about 400 acres by 5:40 p.m. July 19.
No structures have been destroyed and there are no injuries at the time of the release.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 4:22 p.m.)—At 4:01 p.m. all lanes were opened on the Interstate 5 southbound, just south of Lebec, the Fort Tejon office of the California Highway Patrol reports.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 2:12 p.m.)—Niccole Gomez of Lake of the Woods said in a report, “Smoke in Lake of the Woods is really bad…. and if you look at the webcam for the LOW area you can see the smoke.” She is concerned that the fire is blowing west. We’ll post updates here as they are available.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 2:02 p.m.)—At 1:53 p.m. Fort Tejon Station of the California Highway Patrol sent out an alert that the No. 4 southbound lane of Interstate 5 just south of Lebec at the top of the Grapevine is closed and traffic has slowed in that area. No predicted time has been announced for reopening the lane.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 1:55 p.m.)—At 1:52 p.m. Digier Canyon evacuations were announced.
Aaron Rose sent a photo from the Grapevine, I-5, just after the fire started, he said, and before firefighters had arrived. You can see his photo here. Rose writes: “I was coming back from Starbucks at the Tejon truck stop. I took the photo right before the first water turn off on the southbound 5, which is right before the Fort Tejon exit I believe. Time was about. 12:10 p.m.”
Dennis Penna of Los Padres Estates in O’Neill Canyon says,”Everything is brown…smokey, and raining ash.” He is recalling what took place, beginning in about the same area, just last weekend.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 12:56 p.m.)—”A fixed wing tanker has just arrived!” Rachelle Black said at 12:50 p.m. She lives in Digier Canyon. “The fire is coming down the ridge about 1/2 mile from our house and the wind is blowing northwest toward us. Black says she saw “two spotter planes” as well, but that the helicopter is too low in the canyon for her to see from her vantage point. “Up in the canyon, the wind blows one way and then another, so it could also affect Fort Tejon,” Black said as she walked out onto the hillside with a mobile phone and a camera to survey the area. She said she does not plan to evacuate, because she has two horses and alpacas and no horse trailer at the site at the moment.
UPDATE: LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 12:44 p.m.)—Engine 55 has reported to the fire site. The blaze started near the freeway and rapidly came across Digier Canyon Road by 12:35 p.m. Residents along Lebec Oaks Road and the O’Neill Canyon area need to be on alert.
LEBEC, CA (Friday, July 19 at 12:24 p.m.)—Kern County Fire Department is rushing to a blaze that has broken out in Lebec, near Digier Canyon. A call has gone out for “a strike team, structure protection, a helicopter and a bulldozer,” said Gary Meyer, reporting on location.
Thanks to community Breaking News reporters Aaron Rose, Lance Borgstrom, Rachelle Black and Niccole Gomez for their calls to 661-245-NEWS (6397) and BreakingNews@MountainEnterprise.com (where you can also submit jpeg photos) or click Breaking News at the top-left of this website page.
This is part of the July 19, 2013 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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