Labor Day Fire Update: French Fire and Caballo Fire

Hot and Dry Conditions Contribute to Two California Wildfires in the Past Week

One barn on Avenida Caballo was damaged by the Caballo Fire near Los Olivos over Labor Day weekend. | Credit: Mike Eliason/S.B. County Fire

The Labor Day weekend’s hot weather and blazing sun were good for those enjoying a day off, but for two fires in the area — the Caballo Fire in Los Olivos and the French Fire in Kern County — the heat makes tough conditions even worse.

The Caballo Fire is a brush fire that broke out Monday afternoon near Los Olivos and prompted emergency evacuations and an immediate response from fire personnel to the area. The fire was reported around 2:30 p.m. near Avenida Caballo and Caballo Lane, and air units were called in to defend multiple structures that were threatened.

According to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, four fixed-wing air tankers and a helicopter were called in, and homes in the area were given immediate evacuation orders. During the time the fire was reported, temperatures were above 90 degrees with wind blowing at 15 mph.

Fire crews worked through Monday and according to the latest updates, the fire has been 70 percent contained with 70 acres burned. One barn was damaged on Avenida Caballo.

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The French Fire started on Wednesday, August 18, in Kern County just west of Lake Isabella about 200 miles northeast of Santa Barbara; as of the latest update, the fire has burned 26,745 acres with 72 percent containment.  

At least 1,100 firefighters are working in near-critical fire weather conditions, with temperatures in the area reaching triple digits and humidity around 10-15 percent. The mountains and desert of Kern County are expecting “breezy conditions,” according to the National Weather Service, and temperatures are expected to stay above 100 degrees throughout the week.

Highway 155 will remain closed from the Glennville side of the western boundary of the Sequoia National Forest to Rancheria Road at the Greenhorn Summit, and the Bureau of Land Management has a “temporary closure” to all public access for the Keysville Special Recreation Management Area.

A National Incident Management Organization (NIMO) Team has been managing the fire, with the Great Basin Incident Management Team 6, Bureau of Land Management, Sequoia National Forest, and Kern County Fire Department. A transfer of command from the NIMO to Team 6 is scheduled for Wednesday, September 8.

More information will be provided as it becomes available, or check for updates.

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