Fire crews spent much of the afternoon and early evening Tuesday, fighting the fast moving West Fire with helicopters and airplanes. Thick black plumes of smoke and bright orange flames can be seen for miles in the air. 30-40 homes have already been lost and the small community of Old West Ranch has been evacuated. Officials say a total of 150 structures are threatened and roughly 200 firefighters are on scene. Winds are proving to be a huge challenge for crews as flames continue to grow in excess of 500 acres.
In northern Kern County, an eight square mile wildfire known as the Bull Fire in the Sequoia National Forest destroyed six homes. That fire started Monday afternoon. A work camp for minor offenders near Kernville was forced to evacuate the area. The fire is also said to burning in southern Tulare County. And smoke from this fire appeared as a haze in the hills east of Fresno Tuesday night.
As many as 1,000 firefighters are battling the blaze, including almost 250 local firefighters from the Central Valley. Brian Grossman from the U.S. Forestry service says 70 were sent Monday and another 40 on Tuesday had their gear and helmets packed and ready to go. "We've sent a lot of folks that are from the Sierra National Forest to go help and not only just hand crews, we've also sent engines and a lot of heavy helicopters and air tankers out there."
A health caution is in effect from air pollution officials because smoke from the Bull Fire is affecting communities in the Tulare County and Kern County foothills.