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Fire officials say Jawbone fires pose no immediate threat to Sand Canyon, Twin Oaks  

[Incident Commander John Truett] noted that a number of wind turbines in the Jawbone Canyon area had been lost to the fire and that at least 10-15 more will likely go down. Some of the turbines are an older style with what he described as a “very fragile” control box that cannot stand up to the intense heat in the fire area. A number of people in the audience expressed concern about the turbines. Sand Canyon residents successfully fought off development of a wind project last year and remain concerned about the danger they pose. Truett acknowledged there are concerns, but also noted that a network of good quality roads developed for the wind parks iis helping firefighters move about in the area.

Credit:  By Claudia Elliott, Editor | Tehachapi News | www.tehachapinews.com 13 August 2012 ~~

The rural communities of Sand Canyon and Twin Oaks are not in immediate danger from the Jawbone Complex Fires, but with the fire exhibiting erratic behavior the team that rolled into Tehachapi to manage the lightning caused fires reached out Monday evening with a community meeting in Sand Canyon.

Following an introduction by local veterinarian Dr. Beverly Billingsley – whose bright red barn served as a meeting hall – about 70 people gathered were addressed by Fire Information Officer Jim Wilkins who described the process by which Southern California Incident Management Team #2 took over management of the fire at 6 a.m. Monday, working in conjunction with Kern County Fire Dept.

“Kern County can do everything we can,” Wilkins said, “but they have a lot more area to cover.”

The team, under the direction of Incident Commander John Truett, has set up operations at the county’s new facility in Tehachapi, with a base camp rising and fire personnel moving in and out as needed to meet the needs of the fires that started Friday, Aug. 10, in the rugged mountains to the north.

The Jawbone and Rim Fires (and other smaller lightning caused blazes) are being managed as a single complex.

It is the Rim Fire, burning now in dense, Pinyon Pine near the crest of the Southern Sierra about 10 miles west of Highway 14 and 20 miles north of Mojave, that causes the most concern since it is only between 2.5 and 4 miles from inhabited areas of Sand Canyon and even closer to some Twin Oaks area homesites.

The fire experienced a big blow-up on Monday and grew to nearly 9,000 acres with only about 30 percent containment overall.

According to Truett, the fre has the potential to grow to 10,000 acres or more. As of Monday evening officials are eyeing an Aug. 17 containment date.

Smoke from the fire was evident in Tehachapi Monday and although a thundershower late afternoon cleared the air somewhat, it passed just south of the fire, Truett said.

He noted that a number of wind turbines in the Jawbone Canyon area had been lost to the fire and that at least 10-15 more will likely go down.

Some of the turbines are an older style with what he described as a “very fragile” control box that cannot stand up to the intense heat in the fire area.

A number of people in the audience expressed concern about the turbines. Sand Canyon residents successfully fought off development of a wind project last year and remain concerned about the danger they pose.

Truett acknowledged there are concerns, but also noted that a network of good quality roads developed for the wind parks iis helping firefighters move about in the area.

He said the fire has commanded significant resources as the extreme fire behavior continued with high temperatures and erratic winds.

One of the nation’s two DC 10 firefighting planes was working the fire Monday, along with three California National Guard Black Hawk helicopters, and numerous other aircraft.

As of late Monday a total of 755 personnel were assigned to the fire.

Fire officials stressed there is no immediate danger.

“This fire is not going to roar down the canyon to your community,” Truett said. He noted his expectation that should evacuation become necessary, canyon residents would have at least a day’s notice via ReadyKern, the county’s emergency notification system. Information about ReadyKern is availale at www.readykern.org.

Although there is not a community meeting scheduled for Twin Oaks, the local fire station does have information available about the fire and a meeting can be scheduled if there is local interest Wilkins said.

Source:  By Claudia Elliott, Editor | Tehachapi News | www.tehachapinews.com 13 August 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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