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Evacuations lifted after Deer Fire in Kern County burns 1,785 acres

The Deer Fire started Friday afternoon in Kern County and prompted evacuations after growing quickly and moving toward Bear Valley Springs. 

Update Mon. 8:17 a.m.  - All evacuations were lifted last night around 6:00 p.m. Firefighters continue to reinforce containment lines and mop up hotspots, but the fire's total acreage hasn't grown since Saturday. It's now 60% contained. 

Update Sun. 4:45 p.m. - Firefighters made progress due to cooler temperatures and higher humidity on Saturday night. At 6:00 p.m. today, recommended and precautionary evacuation orders will be lifted for all areas. Road closures will also be lifted as well.

Update Sun. 10:05 a.m. - The fire has burned 1,785 acres and is 40 percent contained. Recommended evacuations remain in effect for Bear Valley Springs residents to the north and west of the intersection of Deer Trail Drive and Starland Trail. An evacuation center has been set up at Jacobsen Middle School at 711 Anita Dr. in Tehachapi.

Update Sat. 5:05 p.m. - The fire is holding steady at 1,800 acres.  It is currently burning near one of the areas identified with high concentrations of tree mortality issues. The recommended Bear Valley Springs evacuation area — bounded by Medicine Bow to the north, Greenwater Dr. to the south, Deer Trail at the cross of Derrick Ct. West boundary at end of Deer Trail with the cross of Derrick Ct. to the west, and Territory and Jacaranda to the East —  remains in effect.

Update, Sat. July 2, 9:06 a.m. - The fire is currently 1,800 acres in size and 0% contained. 300 structures are threatened. On Friday night, night-capable helicopter operations helped keep the fire in check. There are 519 total personnel currently working this fire. Bear Valley Springs is currently under a recommended evacuation. You can see the recommended evacuation area on this map. An emergency evacuation center will be opened at Jacobson Middle School at 711 Anita Dr. in Tehachapi. Animal Services will assist with sheltering companion animals at the shelter site.

"People are advised, if they're in the path of the fire near Bear Valley Springs, to get their stuff, get it out, get out. And get out immediately, because the fire is fairly swift-moving, and we're not entirely sure we're going to be able to catch it," Kern County Fire's Phil Neufeld told KPCC.

Deer Fire Fire Tracker

The fire is currently threatening between 80 and 100 homes, according to Cal Fire. It was pushing toward the ridge line, according to the Kern County Fire Department. Firefighters face difficult conditions.

"It's very steep, it's very hot. The winds are feeding the fire, the terrain is working against us, and there's lots of grass, and bad potential. There's a lot of beetle damage up in the trees, so if it gets up in there, it could get nasty," Neufeld said.

They were attacking the fire from the ground and the air.

"Right now, it's early times, and we're throwing a lot at it, but, you know, it depends — it's fire," Neufeld said.

Kern County Fire was recommending the following evacuation area, according to an update on its website:

The Bear Valley Police Department was evacuating people, Neufeld said. An evacuation center was set up at Jacobsen Middle School.

"We're doing what we can, and we hope that people will head for safety. And even if they haven't been asked formally to do an evacuation, they should prepare, get their loved ones and their pets ready, head out, and if they can be away from their homes in the event that we need to protect the structures, it will make it a lot easier for firefighting equipment to get in there, and they won't be delayed if they have to get out," Neufeld said.

The fire is located east of Arvin. It was near the northwest corner of the village of Bear Valley Springs, according to Neufeld.

The fire was burning off of Highway 223 and Deertrail Road, six miles east of Arvin, according to Cal Fire. It started burning at 2:10 p.m.

The fire was feeding on light fuels, Neufeld said. Highway 223 between Highway 58 and Arvin was closed down while crews worked on the fire, according to Neufeld.

This story has been updated.