Three fires in a row: They are getting closer

  • [photo by Kevin McDonnell of Lebec]

    [photo by Kevin McDonnell of Lebec]

Evacuation confusion

By Patric Hedlund, TME

Kevin McDonnell of Lebec is a man of faith. He believes in God and the power of lot clearing.

On Sunday, July 11, deputies used the loudspeakers on their cruisers to ask residents of Los Padres Estates (LPE) to evacuate from the onrushing Bear fire.

In the neighborhood just over the ridge, McDonnell and his neighbors—with perfectly cleared defensible space around their homes—confidently watched the air show put on by Cal Fire and the Kern County Fire Department.

Big Jim Stoughton of LPE was not as relaxed. The fire was approaching the ExxonMobil storage tanks near the entryway to LPE. His wife had a broken hip. He could not move her. A torrent of…(please see below to view full stories and photographs)

Photo captions:

On Sunday, July 11, Los Padres Estates residents in Lebec were advised by deputies on garbled loudspeakers to evacuate. Residents didn’t know where to go to flee the Bear fire. Some couldn’t.

“An immediate and amazing response by our firefighters. All is under control here.”
—Kevin McDonnell in Lebec

“The Verizon cellphone service does not work in this canyon. Neither do ATT cell phones.”
—Jim Stoughton in Lebec

“ReadyKern reverse 911 alerts were not received about the Bear fire.”
—Terre Ashmore in Lebec

Kevin McDonnell documented the hillside after the Bear fire was nearly contained. Kern County Fire Department dispatched assets to fight the blaze at 1:25 p.m. The Shell fire June 27 and the Tumbleweed fire July 4 were also reported in the early afternoon. All three fires spread rapidly with the wind across dry grasslands and hill slopes.

Cleared residential lots kept the Bear fire to the slopes and away from residential areas, firefighters said.

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This is part of the July 16, 2021 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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