California fire grows slightly, threatens homes

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Calif. Lake Isabella wildfire
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California fire grows slightly, threatens homes
Several helicopters including this one are getting their water from Isabella Lake before making another water drop on the Shirley Fire, Saturday, June 14, 2014, northeast of Bakersfield, Calif. The wildfire has consumed more than 800 acres and continued to burn Sunday morning. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
This jet powered DC-10 air tanker #910 makes a long drop of fire retardant on the Shirley Fire, Saturday, June 14, 2014 in the Alta Sierra area where the wildfire has consumed more than 800 acres. (AP Photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
The Shirley Fire kicks up lots of smoke with the sun in the center, as seen in Wofford Heights, Calif., Sunday, June 15, 2014. By later Sunday, the fire had burned through 3.1 square miles of trees and brush in and around the Sequoia National Forest, coming within a mile of Wolford Heights, about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Firefighters stopped the flames from reaching homes in Wofford Heights. Authorities have called on residents of the threatened homes to evacuate. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
Firefighters take a break Sunday, June 15, 2014 in Riverside Park in Kernville, Calif., after battling the Shirley Fire all night on the night shift. The wildfire has consumed more than 1800 acres and continues burning with several hundred personnel fighting the fire including hand crews, helicopters, and air tankers from multiple firefighting agencies. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
Heavy smoke from the Shirley Fire above Wofford Heights, Calif., is seen Sunday, June 15, 2014. By later Sunday, the fire had burned through 3.1 square miles of trees and brush in and around the Sequoia National Forest, coming within a mile of Wolford Heights, about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Firefighters stopped the flames from reaching homes in Wofford Heights. Authorities have called on residents of the threatened homes to evacuate. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
The fire camp for the Shirley Fire at Camp Nine, near Kernville, Calif., is well underway Sunday, June 15, 2014, with the smoke from the fire in the background across Isabella Lake, above Wofford Heights, Calif. More than 1800 acres has been consumed by wildfire with several hundred personnel working the fire including air tankers, helicopters, hand crews, and lots of structure protection with 500 people having to evacuate Saturday night after midnight. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
An Erickson Air-Crane loads up from Isabella Lake Sunday, June 15, 2014, before making another water drop on the Shirley Fire that had consumed over 1800 acres as of Sunday afternoon, west of Wofford Heights, Calif. (AP photo/The Bakersfield Californian, Casey Christie)
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LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (AP) -- A smoky wildfire burning near homes in the southern Sierra Nevada west of California's Lake Isabella was holding steady Monday and crews expected to make significant progress before hotter, drier weather sets in later in the week.

Firefighters using air tankers and helicopters were battling the blaze, which has charred about 3.4 square miles of trees and brush in and around the Sequoia National Forest.

Flames being pushed by gusty winds from the west came within a mile of the mountain community of Wofford Heights and authorities called on residents of about a thousand threatened homes to evacuate. Dozens of people stayed at a Red Cross shelter overnight, the Forest Service reported.

At least two structures have burned, fire spokesman Jay Nichols said.

The Shirley Fire was 10 percent contained, but officials said that number was expected to grow throughout the day.

The fire broke out Friday night in remote area about 40 miles northeast of Bakersfield and exploded late Saturday as dry winds pushed the flames toward homes, prompting Kern County Sheriff's deputies to knock on doors into the night to urge residents to leave.

More than 1,100 firefighters were battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain at elevations around 2,500 feet within a popular outdoor recreation area. Aircraft were scooping water from Lake Isabella to use against the flames. Helicopters flew around the clock and crews were able to keep the fire from growing significantly overnight.

More crews were expected to join the fight. Authorities planned to keep the augmented crews working through a "swing shift" so they don't lose any time during shift changes to make progress, Forest Service spokeswoman Jennifer Chapman said.

"Our current outlook for the forecast is such that we are really ramping up suppression operations over the next couple of days because it's going to be even hotter and drier at the end of the week," she said.

The Forest Service said that camping, horseback riding, rafting and other activities in the Sequoia district were so far unaffected by the blaze.

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