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Lake Isabella-area brush fire no longer threatening homes

May 28, 2011 |  6:08 pm

A brush fire in the Lake Isabella area was about 65% contained late Saturday, and authorities said the danger to people and property had passed.

“They got a perimeter pretty well-established so there won’t be the possibility of spread,” said Capt. Joaquin Gaeta of the Kern County Fire Department. “It’s really winding down.”

The blaze, called the Cove Fire, broke out about 12:30 p.m. Friday just off Highway 178, in the area of Joughin Ranch, west of Kissack Cove. It has burned 1,122 acres.

“Extreme weather behavior with high winds caused the fire to grow quickly,” said the first bulletin issued about the fire.

Officials announced a voluntary evacuation for 100 homes, and about 400 residents quickly departed.

The fire “was going through there pretty quick, and it was windy, gusting 20 to 30 miles per hour,” Gaeta said.

But the risk to homes abated and by 8 p.m. Friday, the evacuation order was lifted.

Thick smoke in the area and the presence of emergency vehicles led to the closing of Highway 178 between Poplar and Vista Grande. By Friday evening, motorists could get through with California Highway Patrol escorts. The highway is now fully open.

There were no injuries, but one home sustained minor roof damage related to the fire.

The general fire danger remains high with the arrival of warming, dry weather.

“Everything is dry as a bone,” Gaeta said. “The grass is golden brown, ready to take off, so we’ve got to be real careful out here.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

-- Howard Blume