A 400-acre fire is burning near the 5 Freeway at the Grapevine, prompting evacuations and the closure of one southbound lane.
The blaze near the Tejon Ranch Center was creating such heavy smoke that fire officials initially thought it was 1,500 acres, according to Kern County Fire Department Engineer Anthony Romero.
Homes in the Oak Knoll community, in the 6500 block Digier Road (map), were being evacuated.
The fire began at about noon, according to fire Capt. Wayne Griffith. It was at least 400 acres by 3:20 p.m.
Eighty firefighters from Kern County were on scene, as were LA County firefighters and U.S. Forest Service , Griffith said. One water-dropping helicopter and two air tankers were on scene, he said. Three other helicopters were on the way, he said.
The blaze was next to the freeway that provides the main link between Los Angeles and California's Central Valley.
California Highway Patrol officials say one southbound lane on the 5 Freeway has been closed south of Lebec for emergency vehicles and traffic was slowing in the area.
The fire may have been caused by a big-rig on the side of the highway, CHP said. The cause remains under investigation.