Firefighters were closely watching the wind Wednesday night as they battled a fast-moving, wind-driven wildfire that burned more than 3,000 acres in less than three hours, forcing evacuations and road closures in Los Padres National Forest near Frazier Park.
The blaze in mountainous terrain was being driven by winds that gusted up to 20 mph amid very dry fuel conditions. By late Wednesday, the fire was 10 percent contained and had grown to consume acreage in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties.
The Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area and Piru Creek Campground were under a mandatory evacuation order, according to the Kern County Fire Department.
Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec (map) was evacuated soon after the blaze was reported at 1:20 p.m., according to Kern County Fire Department spokesman Corey Wilford. A fire command post was located at the school, which will be closed on Thursday while crew continue to battle the fire.
Anyone who is nearby in the forest should get out, Wilford said. Residents in the Piru Creek area were being warned about the blaze as well.
Falcon Way, a road west of the 5 Freeway on which the school is located, was closed. Others roads leading toward Hungry Valley were being closed as well, Wildford said.
Dubbed the Grand Fire, the blaze was burning in "very steep and hilly" terrain, Wilford said. Aerial video showed a mountainous area covered in trees and vegetation ablaze, with a huge plume of white smoke rising for hundreds of feet.
More than 200 firefighters were on scene from Kern, Los Angeles and Ventura county fire departments, as well as from the U.S. Forest Service and the federal Bureau of Land Management.
The fire had burned more than 750 acres within an hour. By 4 p.m., the Kern County Fire Deparment posted on its Facebook page that the fire was 2,500 acres. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Fire Department said jsut before 5 p.m. that the blaze was more than 3,000 acres.
Five air tankers and four water-dropping helicopters were responding to the blaze.
Authorities have not determined a cause of the blaze, which was burning about 70 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, south of the Grapevine that links the metropolitan area to the Central Valley.
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