Some residents forced out of their homes last week by the Cedar Fire are being allowed to return.
Firefighters continue to make steady progress quelling the wildfire, which started Aug. 16 near Lake Isabella, pushing containment by Friday morning to 20 percent.
That was improvement over the 15 percent reported Thursday, even as the fire grew about 5 percent to 27,586 acres, according to the U.S. Forest Service.
The fire is northeast of Lake Isabella in Tulare and Kern counties.
The Tulare County Fire and Sheriff’s departments announced at 3 p.m. Friday that the mandatory evacuation order for California Hot Springs and Pine Flat had been lifted.
Voluntary evacuations are still in place, and proof of residence is required to gain access to the area.
The U.S. Forest Service cautioned Friday afternoon that conditions may change in the next 36 hours possibly causing officials to once again issue mandatory evacuations. Some road closures remain in effect.
The neighboring communities of White River Summer Homes, Pine Mountain Ranch Homes and Rainbow Ranch Homes are still under mandatory evacuation orders.
Residents seeking details about evacuations may call the Tulare County Emergency Operations Center at 559-623-0200 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
The Forest Service says no camping is allowed in the Kern River region until the fire is put out. Overnight fire behavior moderated as winds diminished and humidity went up, aiding firefighters who made progress securing portions of the fire’s west flank.
The Forest Service says it has spent nearly $28 million fighting the Cedar Fire, which has burned some cabins. The cause is under investigation.
The communities of Posey, Sugarloaf, Guernsey Mill and Panorama Heights continue to be threatened on the west side of the fire.
Three American Red Cross shelters remain open to area residents:
▪ Granite Hills High School, 1701 E. Putnam Ave. in Porterville.
▪ First Baptist Church of Lake Isabella, 3701 Suhre St. in Lake Isabella.
▪ South Fork Elementary School, 6401 Fay Ranch Road in Weldon.
Elsewhere, the Tule Fire northeast of Springville is fully contained at 750 acres, Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant said.
Still, more than 11,600 firefighters are battling eight large wildfires in California, Berlant said.
Among them are two on the Central Coast: The Chimney Fire near Hearst Castle had burned 45,008 acres and was 47 percent contained as of Friday morning. And the Soberanes Fire in Big Sur had burned 91,100 acres and was 60 percent contained. The two fires are now about 50 miles apart.