LEBEC, Calif. – A wildfire that raged across dry, grass-covered hills was partially contained Monday and residents who had been told to evacuate were allowed to return home.
The fire, about 40 miles southeast of Bakersfield, began Sunday afternoon when a vehicle caught fire on the side of the Golden State Freeway, near Fort Tejon State Historic Park (search), officials said. It was the second wildfire in Kern County during the weekend.
The fire had blackened about 1,100 acres by Monday and was 50 percent contained, officials said.
It had threatened some 200 houses lining two canyons along the west side of the freeway. Officials evacuated several hundred people, but all evacuation orders were lifted during the night, county officials said Monday. No injuries were reported.
In the Northwest, authorities in Oregon evacuated campgrounds and cabins Sunday because of a windblown fire near 12 miles west of La Pine. The blaze quadrupled in size overnight, growing to nearly 16,000 acres by Monday morning. It was 30 percent contained and full containment was expected by Saturday, officials said.
Utah authorities recommended evacuation for about 100 people and closed a stretch of highway between Gunlock, Utah, and Mesquite, Nev., because of a fire about 10 miles west of St. George. The blaze spread quickly through 6,000 acres of grass, pinion and juniper trees and brush in the Beaver Dam Mountains (search). Firefighters were hampered by high temperatures, erratic wind and steep terrain.
At Lebec, innkeeper Debbie Peters said conditions had been ripe for a blaze. "All it takes is the proper setting, and (Sunday) was very windy," she said.
"Lebec consists of a post office, an antique store and a mini-mart," said Peters. "There is really not much you can do when a wildfire is coming."
The Red Cross (search) set up an evacuation shelter at a school but only about 35 people made use of it, officials said Monday.
About 575 local, state and federal firefighters were assigned to the fire at Lebec.
A separate wildfire destroyed nine structures and over 500 acres of brush in a rugged high-desert recreation area of Kern County. It was contained early Sunday, authorities said.
Elsewhere, the 37,500-acre fire atop southern Arizona's Mount Lemmon was 65 percent contained by late Sunday, said fire information officer Art Morrison. The human-caused fire began June 17 on the peak northeast of Tucson and destroyed 317 homes or cabins and seven businesses in the summer vacation community of Summerhaven.