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Kern County Fire Prompts Evacuations As Another Local Blaze Nears End

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KEYESVILLE (AP) — People were asked to evacuate a campground and a small mountain community after a wildfire broke out in Kern County near Lake Isabella on Sunday, while firefighters to the south in Riverside County had nearly surrounded a blaze of similar size.

The Kern County fire started near Keyesville, some 45 miles northeast of Bakersfield, and burned 160 acres of grass and brush on Bureau of Land Management property, U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Cindy Thill said.

Pioneer Point campground and Dutch John Flats – a community of about a dozen mountain homes with only one dirt road in and out – were asked to evacuate as a precaution.

Thill said the fire was not in immediate danger of reaching the community, but authorities put out the call to evacuate “in case it makes a run.”

“It was a precautionary evacuation,” Thill said. “Some homeowners have decided to stay.”

A shelter for evacuees was set up at the Keyesville Senior Center, Thill said.

Firefighters from the BLM, the Forest Service and Kern County were taking on the blaze. Air tankers and helicopters dropped retardant and water from the nearby lake on the fire.

It was the second significant wildfire in two weeks near Lake Isabella, a recreational destination about 110 miles north of Los Angeles. The earlier fire was contained May 29 after consuming 1,122 acres, or about 1 3/4 square miles, and briefly forcing the evacuation of about 400 homes.

Meanwhile, in Riverside County, another 160-acre wildfire was burning in the Cleveland National Forest and was nearly surrounded three days after it started.

The fire was 95 percent contained, with full containment expected sometime Sunday night, Forest Service spokesman Jake Rodriguez said.

The blaze began Thursday afternoon in an orange grove in Temescal Canyon, a hilly area south of Corona. No homes were threatened.

Nearly 400 firefighters, aided by aircraft, helped tackle the blaze some 50 miles east of Los Angeles, Rodriguez said. Three firefighters were treated for minor injuries.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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