Firefighters Gain Ground on Wildfire Near California's Sequoia National Forest

The Shirley Fire started Friday night northeast of Bakersfield and burned four square miles by Tuesday

A wildfire burning in the southern Sierra Nevada was 50-percent contained Tuesday as crews continued to protect homes in the region near California's Lake Isabella.

Crews on the ground and in the air expected to make progress before the return of hot, dry weather later this week. By Tuesday morning, the wildfire burned more than four square miles in and around the Sequoia National Forest.

NBC News reported that more than $4 million has been spent fighting the flames since they sparked last week.

The Shirley Fire burned to within a mile of the mountain community of Wofford Heights (map), about 50 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Residents in about 1,000 homes were told to evacuate, but those orders were lifted late Monday.

The fire broke out Friday night in remote area and exploded late Saturday as dry winds pushed the flames toward homes in Kern County. More than 1,100 firefighters were battling the blaze in steep, rugged terrain at elevations around 2,500 feet amid a popular outdoor recreation area. Aircraft were scooping water from Lake Isabella to use against the flames.

The Forest Service said that camping, horseback riding, rafting and other activities in the Sequoia district were so far unaffected by the blaze.

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