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Tankers working with helicopters to lay fire retardant helped keep both fires in control. [CHP Sgt. Darrell Brooks photo
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A firefighter lights a backfire on Digier Canyon Road to burn brush back to the fire from I-5 below. [CHP Sgt. Darrell Brooks photo]
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Three men were seen in a pickup truck leaving the scene after the fire started. [Ron Duncan photo]
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Firefighters at the fire’s point of origin where the three men are said to have been shooting a high caliber rifle.
By Gary Meyer
A wildfire in Old Springs Canyon, a.k.a. Shooters Canyon, just north of Kern County Fire Station 57, was quickly brought under control by fire crews on Saturday, June 19. Another on Interstate 5 on Monday, June 21 was more stubborn.
The call about Saturday’s fire was received at about 12:30 p.m., according to Incident Comander U.S. Forest Service Battalion Chief Richard Sandoval. Helicopters 528 and 530 were dispatched from Chuchupate Ranger Station and were over the scene within minutes. The fire was close to being contained within several hours.
The area was previously burned during the 2006 Scott fire, which was started by a lightning strike on top of Tecuya Ridge.
Saturday, three men were observed leaving the scene in a Ford F150 pickup truck soon after the fire started. Culver City resident Ron Duncan said he and his friend Alex saw the men arrive and drive to the upper end of the canyon at about 11 a.m. He says they began shooting about 15 minutes later. At about noon Duncan says he saw the fire in the area where the men had gone. He and Alex drove to Kern County Fire Station 57, just a mile away, where firefighters were already aware of the fire. While at Station 57, Duncan says the men drove by and said, “Hey, there’s a fire up there!” then drove away.
Duncan quickly photographed the truck and license plate as they were leaving. Forest Service law enforcement agent Hernandez obtained the photos from Duncan at the scene and an investigation is underway.
Los Padres National Forest Engines 71 through 74 responded with Engines 53, 54 and 37. Frazier Park’s Kern County Engine 57 from and Lebec’s 356 also assisted. Sandoval estimated that 100 firefighters had responded and that “by the time 100 percent mop-up has been achieved. There will be 150 crew members working over a three to four day period.” About six acres were burned.
During the water drops, helicopter 528 was dispatched to another fire on the Monterey Forest District, leaving helicopter 530 and the hand crews to finish the job.
On Monday, June 21 California Highway Patrol closed the road to Digier Canyon as the Kern County Fire Department battled a 40-acre grass fire west of Interstate-5, north of Lebec. The fire was traveling at a moderate rate of spread uphill through steep terrain and heavy vegetation towards structures in Digier Canyon.
The fire started beside the roadside and quickly traveled uphill through grass and brush. Two lanes were closed at the upper watering hole, so crews could fight the blaze. Smoke was reported across lanes.
The command post for the Edmunston incident was the parking lot of Fort Tejon State Park. Support came from U.SFS, L.A. County and BLM with air support from two tankers and a helicopter dropping water and retardant on the fire’s edge.
Crews remained through Monday night to ensure the fire was completely extinguished.
This is part of the June 25, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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