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Kern County fire burns 350 acres near Lake Isabella

June 5, 2011 |  9:33 pm

More than 300 firefighters were battling a blaze Sunday night in steep terrain about two miles south of Lake Isabella in Kern County.

As a precaution, the small mountain community of Dutch John Flats, about 45 miles east of Bakersfield, and the nearby Pioneer Point campground were evacuated.

Engineer Leland Davis of the Kern County Fire Department said two air tankers and four helicopters had dropped water and fire retardant on the blaze, but had retired at nightfall. About 350 acres had burned by 9 p.m. and the fire was 10% contained.

“Right now it is cooling down," David said. "But weather is a concern, because they are predicting thunderstorms." He added that hundreds of abandoned gold mines dot the area, a danger to firefighters because vegetation has covered entrances to the mines.

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, which has been named the Key fire.

-- Margot Roosevelt