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Grand fire 15% contained, 3,500 acres burned in Los Padres forest

FiresLos Angeles County Sheriff's Department

About 1,000 firefighters continue to battle a brush fire in Ventura and Kern counties that has burned about 3,500 acres after starting in Kern County near the Grapevine, authorities said.

The blaze was 15% contained Thursday morning and about 600 firefighters were working overnight, said Sean Collins, spokesman for the Kern County Fire Department.

The most active front of the fire was in Ventura County, where flames had spread and were burning through brush and grass in the Los Padres National Forest, fire officials said. Initial firefighting efforts Thursday morning were concentrated on the southern edge of the fire with hand lines, officials said.

Winds of 15-20 mph and temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s were forecast Thursday in Frazier Park and Los Padres National Forest, according to the National Weather Service.

Fire officials earlier had believed that the blaze had crossed into Los Angeles County and deputies were dispatched to the Gorman area Wednesday night in case a shift in the winds pushed the flames toward residential areas and evacuations were needed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.

But late Wednesday, the L.A. County Fire Department said the fire was burning close to the county line but had not crossed it.

The fire broke out around 1:20 p.m. Wednesday near Frazier Mountain Park Road and Grand Terrace Drive, not far from Frazier Park, an unincorporated mountain village in Kern County.

“The wind was pushing it from bush to bush to bush,” Collins said. “It was pushing pretty hard.”

Seven air tankers and four water-dropping helicopters repeatedly attacked the blaze Wednesday evening as firefighters from several agencies worked to contain flames and protect structures, fire officials said.

As walls of flame quickly spread, mandatory evacuations were ordered for Hungry Valley State Park and Piru Creek Campground. 

Deputies swooped down on Frazier Mountain High School to evacuate the campus, but students had already left for the day, said Lt. Dana Albro of the Kern County Sheriff's Department.

One witness told The Times that flames raged close to the campus football field as thick clouds of smoke billowed into the air.

"The flames were huge … It was horrible," said Rebecca Crowe, 14, a middle-school student who was headed to her home in Frazier Park as she passed the campus Wednesday afternoon.

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