Stagecoach Fire burns thousands of acres south of Lake Isabella, CA

Evacuations are in effect

August 4, 2020 | updated at 9 p.m. PDT

Stagecoach Fire
Stagecoach Fire, looking east from Breckenridge Peak at 7:49 p.m. PDT August 4, 2020.

Not much information is available about the Stagecoach Fire that was reported at 3:29 p.m. August 3 South of Havilah, California in Kern County off Stagecoach Drive and Old Ox Road. Tuesday morning Kern County Fire Department said it had burned 2,500 acres, and updated the size to 3,500 acres at 8 p.m. The fire is spreading primarily to the east and northeast.

The Stagecoach Fire is burning on private property and land protected by the Bureau of Land Management between two large parcels of the Sequoia National Forest. It is 12 miles south of Lake Isabella and 22 miles east of Bakersfield. (See the map below.)

To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Stagecoach Fire, including the most recent, click here.

Map of the Stagecoach Fire
Map of the Stagecoach Fire showing heat detected by a satellite as late as 2:18 p.m. PDT August 4, 2020.

Soon after it started Kern County said structures were threatened.

At 8 p.m. PDT we checked FlightRadar24 and saw that at least two air tankers were working the fire, a DC-10 and a BAe-146.

Below is an excerpt from an article at ABC23 in Bakersfield:

…One of the first homes to burn in the fire was a total loss. On Monday, 23ABC spoke with the home’s owners as they evacuated the area. Still emotional after losing their property, they thought fire crews should have done more.

“They said the road’s too narrow. We’re not going down there. We’re not defending that,” the homeowner said. “So they’re up in all the neighbor’s houses and everything. And the fire is going everywhere else, but it’s going straight up in our house and that’s it.”

Resources assigned to the Stagecoach Fire include 21 fire engines, 3 water tenders, 3 helicopters, 7 hand crews, 3 dozers, and a variable number of air tankers (up to 4 at one point), for a total of 242 personnel.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

16 thoughts on “Stagecoach Fire burns thousands of acres south of Lake Isabella, CA”

  1. Yep, that’s an unhappy truth when homeowners find out that firefighters aren’t willing to unnecessarily risk their lives to defend property.

    1. They have to use their expert judgement and their lives are definitely more important than your material posessions.

  2. When it started there was a real lack of air support from tankers for close to an hour because of IA fires in slu , the Sierra, LA county, and tcu. I wouldn’t expect anyone to risk their life saving my home, the same thing was said when the king’s canyon lodge burned during the rough fire. They just watched it burn…all those melted yellow hoses really say they did nothing while being told to GTFO because there’s a crown fire heading for them. This fire was at the top of the ridge by 8pm and 1500 acres, loose 1 house and save 10 others without getting killed.

  3. Above may be true ,however you are jumping to conclusions. Neither of you know ,the road ,the Geography, or anything else about the situation. Pretty hard -hearted assessment by you!

    1. I tried to post a comment about what Chuck said earlier. It didn’t make it past the WT editors. No worries here, sad to see folks lose their homes to wildfire.
      All you can do is take the fire science data on truly hardening you your property and your access roads very very seriously.
      Building a defensible space is some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. Still I know that even with that accomplished, there are just no guarantees when it comes to wildfire. You do have the right to stay and defend your property. You just better have everything on that list super double checked off. I personally think it’s worth it to stay and defend if I ever get the chance

  4. I personally witnessed the altercation between the homeowners, police, and us. They were understandably livid, emotional because they had lost their home. Bottom line was, the fire was burning super aggressive, they lived up a super narrow difficult road and had not done their clearance. I did not personally see their home, as it was inaccessible via engine. I did witness their angry, aggressive profanity laced tirade against about 40 police and firemen.

  5. The two large sized people who lost their home, are owners of sacred mountain real estate, and are also large scale marijuana growers. Perhaps, they had issues with L.E. in the past, and now it comes back to bite them in the rear end. Karma for Kevin and Wendy..

    1. I like Chucks commentary on things here. Bottom line here is, Every person needs to take some accountability here when it comes to a new fire start in the hood. How did it get its spark? Human caused or lightning caused. All fires start small, unless it’s an explosion like Beirut.
      Learn to be Firewise in all of your daily activities and carry some fire tools (In your fire season) in your vehicle for example. You can definitely kick some ass in the first 5 to 20 minutes on a small brush fire with a 20 lb fire bottle and a shovel and a calm but quick thinking mind.
      Obviously now, forget that fire suppression idea if the Santa winds are fanning that “small” brush fire. Simply bail to you safety zone or if you’ve done your Firewise hardening of your sacred sanctuary of a property that took you 30 years to complete. Say a prayer and get inside your building and hunker down good and low or just draw yourself a bathtub in case the radiant heat gets a little much to bear. Let the fire front pass over in say twenty minutes, then take a peek out in your Nomex Wildland gear and deem its safe to go and put any and all spot fires out in the next 12-24 hours around your house and maybe your neighbors house with your gas powered fire pump skid mounted or whatever fire apparatus you have that puts the wet stuff on the red stuff. If it works, then it works, right? Because chances are you will be successful with saving your property you chose to build in the Wildland Urban Interface ignition zone.
      Please allow me a little side tangent here, I get very bored with using the phrase WUI. So when I started my own neighborhood fire patrol and volunteer fire substation in Arroyo Seco, Taos, NM, I called it The Wildland Urban Underground Fire station or just WUUF, the reason is mainly because thats the why I felt after many years of trying to convince other fire professionals and community members and willfully ignorant neighbors of my concepts of, just what it could mean to be an effective federal Firewise community in Tacos NM (jk).
      It’s too lengthy of a topic here for me to get into and I just know that I’ll get chewed up real fast by other WT subscribers that possess way more fire science experience than I’ll ever hope to have.
      With that compliment I just gave our fire professionals here, I do want thank them profusely here for taking on that thankless hazardous low paying job, that is ever so important now, especially with the climate change induced infernos were seeing called mega fires.
      I like what my local VFD Fire chief once said to me about his job of being the man, calling crucial shots, when the shit is hitting the fan and he happened to be the fire command.
      He said to me, Jamie I’d like to think that I can make another persons worst day, just be a little bit better, because I showed up with my crew, sober at 3 am and my all of our equipment worked nicely and we knocked down & out, some big ass flames safely and maybe we saved a dwelling in that operation, however no guarantees with fire ever.
      I’d like to apply what the fire chief said to me above here and in my own words, if you will, apply it to this thread were chatting on right now.
      “I’d like to think that all of our fire professionals are certainly doing everything they possibly can to be making every property owners worst day, be just a little bit better, when it come to a firestorm thats barreling down on and into their community and possibly taking it out in 20 minutes.Without a doubt in my mind here, That is what is exactly happening with their thankless work. Thank you very much for doing a job,I don’t think I could handle. Nonsense, I’m signed up already as I write here.
      But hey, let’s keep it simple here and get back to the focus all of us being more Firewise and all of us possibly possessing a few basic skills for dealing with any small escaped fire wherever you might find one.
      With that concept in our minds now, let’s think about how you just might be able to stop or slow an unwanted ignition before its fire gets too big to safely mange. Remember those few fire tools you had the option to take along the road with you?
      I’ve had to prove this idea to myself a few scary times before in my neighborhood up in the WUI of Taos NM. In May of 2018, We had some arson sparked fire incidents in my neighborhood during the driest 8 month spell any human had ever seen in the southwest. Don’t hold me to that stat please, I’m sure, Im pretty close on that fact though, it was such an insane fire season for us. My neighborhood underground fire patrol worked very well that fire season.
      The wildfires bullets were definitely flying that spring and summer. They found their targets with Durangos 416 Fire and in La Veta pass Colorado with The Springs Creek Fire, and also in Northern NM with the Ute Fire in Cimarron canyon/Philmont scout ranch area, just over on the east side of the central Sangres where my property was sitting like a duck as well. Sorry, my property is on the west side of the range 20 miles from the Ute Fire location. Trust me on this, It was a huge loss of ALL of our precious wilderness backyards. I consider them to be irreplaceable because of what high intensity wildfire does to an alpine environment. Not much grows back except some aspen and gambrel oak.
      So when your turn comes up with any fire or when any small fire finally finds its way to you, hopefully with what Ive suggested here, you can size it up and make the call yourself to safely fight or have a safe flight, you would do the same thing if your kitchen caught fire wouldn’t you? I would.
      If you are a property owner whose investment lies up in the WUI anywhere or you valuable property is clearly in the path of a possible wind driven firestorm just like the ones we saw in Paradise CA and Santa Rosa Ca, then you need to be paying close attention to weather patterns, droughts, red flag warnings and reading Bill Gabbert’s WT articles religiously.
      Because lets face it here, I have to do the same thing as well, because I know its only a matter of time before the natural or unnatural fire cycles of every 7-10 years finds its way into my magnificent backyard of the southern Rockies. It hasn’t seen any fire in 300 years……
      Stay safe out there everyone and stay Firewise, it just might save us all from a bickering match like the one Im hearing right here.
      Peace – JB

      1. Thank you for posting my comment above here. I apologize that it’s message & it’s content started to run away from me a bit. Nothing new for me here, I get a little excited when the west starts to light up with new large fire incidents.
        That said, I promise to be more mindful of the posting rules of WT platform. Less content is more!
        Now let’s turn our eyes to the Lake Fire, near Lancaster Ca, trying hard to rewrite, some of the “fastest rates of spread” record books.
        As Bill cites, The Santa Ana’s haven’t even started blowing in California yet. Fasten your Wildfire Today seatbelts everyone. I bet it’s going to be yet another very turbulent wildland fire season over California, unless they see some significant early Fall season precipitation.
        Fingers crossed for that to happen please!

  6. As a family member to those in the Piute Meadows Ranches Association, The firefighters did what they could do. Because said owner refused to have her roads widen for access and did not remove overgrown brush…..this does NOT mean firefighters did not due there best t save her property. WE are ALL in this together. Thank you Kern County Fire Dept. and all Piute Meadows Members and Associates.

    Patricia Barker

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