Six cabins have been destroyed by the Cedar Fire in Tulare County, officials said Wednesday in the first confirmed report of structures being destroyed by the blaze. More could be lost as the fire continues to spread and firefighters are able to get into areas already burned.
The Cedar Fire started Aug. 16 in northern Kern County west of Kernville and spread north into Tulare County. The U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday that the fire had covered 22,739 acres southeast of Porterville and was 10 percent contained.
Flames destroyed the cabins Monday or Tuesday, but a ground crew on Wednesday confirmed the damage, the Forest Service said. It is expected that the numbers of structures destroyed will go up, authorities said.
Several communities in Tulare County have been evacuated, including California Hot Springs, Posey, Sugarloaf, and White River Summer Homes. Communities in Kern County have also been evacuated, and additional neighborhoods in the Kernville community have been advised to be ready to evacuate.
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Wednesday afternoon, the Tulare County sheriff and fire departments issued a voluntary evacuation order for the Johnsondale area, including the Chamise Flat campground, due to the threat from the Cedar Fire. The recommended evacuation route is Mountain 99 (M-99) south to Kernville.
Anyone needing further information can call the Tulare County Emergency Operations Center at 559-623-0200.
Meanwhile, the Tule Fire east of Porterville is close to being contained, the Forest Service said.
As of Wednesday, it covered 395 acres and was 70 percent contained. Despite winds, the fire did not move overnight.
The fire is along Highway 190, but the road is open in both directions. The cause of the fire, reported about 10 p.m. Monday, remains under investigation.
The Cedar Fire remained one of the larger active fires challenging interagency crews in California on Wednesday.
In San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, the Chimney Fire continued to vex firefighters as erratic, wind-whipped flames pushed further into areas around Lake Nacimiento. The fire has burned 40,798 acres and was 39 percent contained as of Wednesday, according to Cal Fire.
A total of 45 homes and 20 outbuildings have been destroyed and seven buildings damaged from the fire that ignited Aug. 13 south of Lake Nacimiento in the northern reaches of San Luis Obispo County. Another 1,898 structures are still considered threatened. Cal Fire investigators have determined the Chimney Fire was not intentionally set, but the cause remains under investigation.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday morning issued an evacuation warning for residents living on several North Coast roads, including north of San Simeon Creek Road.
Cal Fire spokeswoman Amber Anderson said the warning was issued due to backfires being set near Hearst Castle. Operations began Tuesday around 2 p.m., but crews burned only a section of the planned area after some spot fires jumped the containment line, she said.
Firefighters planned to continue setting backfires Wednesday, which prompted the evacuation warnings for North Coast roads, Anderson said.
Although the fire remained stable on Wednesday, firefighters planned to focus on preparing affected areas – especially communities near the northeastern and southwestern edges of the blaze – for a Thursday “wind event,” said Cal Fire spokeswoman Diley Greiser.
“Tomorrow, it’s going to be a very, very important day,” Greiser said.
Along the northeastern side of the fire, near communities on the western banks of Lake Nacimiento, firefighters planned to continue to secure containment lines and install defensive bulldozer lines and fire breaks, Greiser said.
▪ The Soberanes Fire along the Big Sur coast had grown to 88,654 acres and was still only 60 percent contained. Fire crews were battling rugged, remote terrain – and poison oak. Some 500 firefighters have sought medical care for poison-oak-related ailments, with 200 cases in just the last several days, according to the Forest Service. Poison oak is found in most areas of the forest, and some firefighters have said it’s the worst they’ve ever seen, the Forest Service said.
▪ The Rey Fire north of Santa Barbara has consumed 31,255 acres of brush and trees and is 35 percent contained. But higher humidity and slightly cooler temperatures are helping to slow the fire’s spread.