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UPDATE: Peak Fire in Lake Isabella grows

PEAK FIRE

The Peak Fire, a conflagration on Piute Peak, grew to 1,752 acres and is 5 percent contained as of 11:31 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

The Peak Fire, a conflagration on Piute Peak, grew to 2,000 acres and was 10 percent contained as of Wednesday evening, according to the Bureau of Land Management.

Around 200 personnel are battling the flames in the region south of Lake Isabella; officials designated the fire as Type Two. Airplanes are also dumping water over the affected areas and the cause of the fire has not been determined. The wildfire began in surrounding vegetation and brush, said Erica Bain, a Kern County Fire Department public information officer.

There are five categories of fires, ranging from type one to type five. A type five classification is the least severe, while a type one fire threatens residential areas and can require more than 400 personnel to contain, Bain added.

Steep and rugged terrain cover the area, increasing the difficulty for firefighters to control the flames. Pathways into the affected region must be determined before deploying safety personnel, Bain said.

Officials issued an evacuation warning for the following regions: Walker Basin, Skinner Flat and Claraville.

The warning informs individuals flames could creep into their residential area. Once officials announce evacuation orders, community members must immediately leave.

“When those evacuation orders go out, it is quick,” Bain said. “So (evacuation warnings are) a pre-prep, to ... get in people's heads (and say) ‘Hey, it could happen. We hope it doesn't, but it could.’”

The fire broke out at 11:39 a.m. Tuesday, according to the Bureau of Land Management. Around 3:51 p.m. Tuesday, the conflagration spread to 100 acres, according to a Twitter post by the KCFD. By 7:51 p.m. Tuesday, flames consumed 1,400 acres, according to a KCFD post on Twitter.

The Red Cross opened an evacuation site Tuesday at Lake Isabella Senior Center on 6409 Lake Isabella Blvd. As of Tuesday night, the site was on standby because no evacuees came to the center, said Cindy Huge, a spokesperson for the Red Cross.

Three Red Cross Volunteers are near the site, but are not physically present, Huge added.

Emergency Management of Kern County directed the Red Cross to shutter its services because no one arrived at the facilities. When individuals need any supplies, such as water, snacks or shelter, the center will reopen, Huge added.

Oscar Carmona in Lake Isabella said he could see plumes of dark smoke filling the air Tuesday. The acrid smoke didn’t “feel great” to breathe in, Carmona said. However, most of the smoke in the surrounding region disappeared by Wednesday night. 

Anna Beckham, a local, said fire in the region is nothing new. Still, the isolated nature of Piute Peak creates a sense of relief. 

“I’ve lived here my entire life, so for me it’s pretty normal,” Beckham said. “There are some small communities within the mountains up there, but it’s few and far between.”

Bain said there are no homes for flames to consume in that area. If officials determine residences may be at risk, the fire could be classified as type one. 

Editor's note: A previous version of this article misspelled Cindy Huge.