California 'Airport Fire' scorches thousands of acres

At least 150 structures were threatened

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A wind-driven wildfire erupted this week in California’s remote Owens Valley, just east of the Sierra Nevada. 

By Thursday afternoon the blaze, dubbed the "Airport Fire," was 0% contained and had scorched nearly 4,000 acres.  

This photo provided by CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office shows a wildfire near in Owens Valley, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.

This photo provided by CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office shows a wildfire near in Owens Valley, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office via AP)

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said at least 150 structures were threatened but so far, no communities have been harmed. 

The fire broke out Wednesday near Eastern Sierra Regional Airport outside the town of Bishop and winds drove it south toward the town of Big Pine, where the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office ordered evacuations for the east side of the community.

This photo provided by CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office shows firefighters responding to a wildfire near in Owens Valley, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. 

This photo provided by CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office shows firefighters responding to a wildfire near in Owens Valley, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.  (CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office via AP)

"Firefighters are actively engaged in perimeter control and structure defense," a Cal Fire statement said. "Winds have remained steady and will continue at 10-15 mph out of the northwest." 

More than 430 personnel, 66 engines, six air tankers and a helicopter were assigned to the fire, which remained under investigation.

The White Mountain Research Center and the Owens Valley Radio Observatory were included in the evacuation. 

This photo provided by CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office shows smoke and fire from a wildfire near in Owens Valley, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. 

This photo provided by CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office shows smoke and fire from a wildfire near in Owens Valley, Calif. on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022.  (CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office via AP)

The University of California's White Mountain Research Center supports a wide range of scientific research and is known for earth science education.

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The Owens Valley Radio Observatory is owned by the California Institute of Technology and has large dish antennas used for radio astronomy and astrophysics research. 

This photo provided by CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office shows smoke from a blaze that erupted Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, near Eastern Sierra Regional Airport just outside the town of Bishop, Calif.

This photo provided by CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office shows smoke from a blaze that erupted Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022, near Eastern Sierra Regional Airport just outside the town of Bishop, Calif. (CAL FIRE San Bernardino Unit Public Information Office via AP)

Caltech said in a statement that personnel on-site reported that a perimeter was established around buildings and the main threat to those structures had passed.

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Bishop, with a population of 3,800, is about 15 miles north of Big Pine, home to about 1,700 people in Inyo County. The arid valley lies thousands of feet below the peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the west.

The Associated Press contributed to this report