Winds fan wildfires in Owens Valley, eastern California | State News

A wildfire continued to burn actively Thursday in the remote Owens Valley in eastern California, but firefighters have so far prevented it from harming small communities, authorities said.

Dubbed the Airport Fire, the blaze is believed to have burned more than 4 square miles (10 square kilometers) and posed a threat to 150 structures, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The fire erupted near the Eastern Sierra Regional Airport outside the town of Bishop on Wednesday and winds pushed it south toward the town of Big Pine, where evacuations were ordered for the east side of the community.

“Firefighters are actively engaged in perimeter control and structural defense,” a statement from Cal Fire said. “Winds have remained stable and will continue at 10-15 mph (16-24 kph) from the northwest.”

The Owens Valley Radio Observatory and the White Mountain Research Center were among the protected structures.

Bishop, 3,800, is about 15 miles (24 kilometers) north of Big Pine, home to about 1,700 people in Inyo County. The barren valley sits thousands of feet below the Sierra Nevada peaks to the west.

More than 430 people, 66 engines, six air tankers and a helicopter were assigned to the fire, which remains under investigation.

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