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200-acre brush fire near Lake Isabella is 50% contained

June 6, 2011 |  9:14 am

A Kern County fire helicopter, center, makes a water drop on the Key fire Sunday in the rugged terrain near Lake Isabella.

The Key fire near Lake Isabella in Kern County was 50% contained Monday morning, but drastic wind changes and steep terrain were complicating the battle.

Unseasonably low temperatures into the 40s Sunday night helped, said Leland Davis, an engineer with the Kern County Fire Department.

"I'm wearing a ski jacket now," Davis said Monday. "The weather has been very un-California for June."

About 300 firefighters remained on the job and three water-dropping helicopters, three planes spreading fire retardant and a scout plane were in the air. Authorities using global positioning systems adjusted their estimate of the fire's size downward from 350 acres to 200 acres.

About two dozen homes in the mountain community of Dutch John Flats, 45 miles east of Bakersfield, remained on voluntary evacuation. Pioneer Point campground that winds up the mountain from the lake was still closed, Davis said.

Kern County, the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have established a unified command to coordinate the response to the blaze.

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-- Gale Holland

Photo: A Kern County fire helicopter, center, makes a water drop on the Key fire Sunday in the rugged terrain near Lake Isabella. Credit: Casey Christie / Bakersfield Californian

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