French Fire: Investigators say fire was human caused, suspicious in nature


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Fire officials announced the French Fire has been determined to be human caused and is suspicious in nature.

Officials said anyone with information about the fire is asked to email

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced the state has secured a FEMA grant to obtain the necessary resources to fight the French Fire.

The grant will allow local, state and tribal agencies battling the fire to apply for 75 percent reimbursement of eligible fire suppression costs.

Caltrans has expanded the closure of Highway 155 from Pascoe Road in Glennville to the Highway 178 junction in Lake Isabella.

The French Fire continues to burn in a heavily wooded area near Lake Isabella and has burned 21,345 acres since Aug. 18. Officials said it is at 19% containment. Evacuation orders have been expanded to include multiple mountain communities.

The Kernville Union School District announced all schools in the district will be closed Wednesday through Friday due to the French Fire.

Alta Sierra Ski Area says they left the ski resort Tuesday because the smoke became too toxic. Fire officials say they haven’t received any reports on the Alta Sierra region.

A mandatory evacuation was issued Tuesday afternoon for Wofford Heights residents and an evacuation warning was issued for Kernville. Kern County Fire says the fire poses an imminent threat to Wofford Heights, Calgary Drive and Pala Ranches.

A firefighter was injured Wednesday and has been removed from work, Kern County fire spokesman Sean Collins said. The type of injury and its severity were unknown.

A total of 17 structures have been destroyed, including nine homes, officials said.

The fire began just after 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 18 near Wagy Flat and Sawmill roads, officials said.

More than 900 firefighters from across the state have been called to fight the fire. Officials said 7,153 people have fled under evacuation orders.


The Kern County Fire Department has provided a map for the French Fire and related evacuations. Click on this link to view it.

Evacuation orders:

Information via Ready Kern.

Wofford Heights, starting at Black Canyon Trail where it turns into Calgary Drive east to Burlando Road where it turns to Wofford Boulevard from the Sequoia Forest boundary south to Old State Road.
South of the Tulare County border on the west side, extending south to Rancheria Road and follows east to where it turns into Black Gulch, following Black Gulch where it goes south to Highway 178.
Sequoia Forest boundary to Black Mountain. East to Black Canyon Trail where it turns to Calgary Drive, north to the Sequoia Forest boundary.

Lake Isabella Reservoir and follows Highway 155 to Keyesville. Including communities of Pala Ranches, Shirley Meadows, Alta Sierra, Slick Rock, Dutch Flat, Isabella Highlands, Wagy Flat, Black Gulch, Keyesville north and south.

Evacuation warnings:

Kern County Fire issued an evacuation warning for Kernville.
Kern County Fire says the fire poses an imminent threat to Wofford Heights, Calgary Drive and Pala Ranches.

Evacuation center:

The Red Cross has opened two evacuation centers in Lake Isabella, one at Woodrow Wallace Elementary School at 3240 Erskine Creek Road and another at Kern River Valley High School at 3340 Erskine Creek Road. Volunteers will be on hand providing meals, emotional support and other resources, the Red Cross said.

Residents going to the shelter are encouraged to bring any needed prescription and other medication, extra clothing, pillows, blankets, hygiene supplies, important documents. Diapers, formulas and toys should be brought for children and infants.

Kern County Animal Services said residents who needed to evacuate and left animals behind, can contact the shelter to assist them and their pets. Call 661-868-7100.

Timelapse video of the French Fire as seen from Alta Sierra:


Highway 155 is closed between Pascoe Road in Glenville to Highway 178 junction in Lake Isabella
Highway 155 closed at Sawmill Road and at Calgary Drive.
Rancheria Road at Poso Flat
Old State Road 1.4 miles west of Highway 155.
Burlando Road between Nellie Dent Drive to Highway 155

The Kernville Union School District announced all schools in the district will be closed Wednesday due to the French Fire.

Keysville Special Recreation Management Area is closed because of wildfire danger, the Bureau of Land Management said.

The Wofford Heights Post Office is closed temporarily due to the French Fire, according to the U.S. Postal Service.


You can sign up to receive alerts and information from the county by signing up with Ready Kern. Click on this link to register for alerts.

Check back for updates.


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