UPDATE: Buttermilk Fire 250 acres, expected containment Thursday night

Firefighters are still battling a 250-acre fire off U.S. 168 northwest of Bishop near the community of Starlight and the popular Buttermilk bouldering area but the fire is now 50 percent contained.

Full containment is estimated at 6:00 p.m. Thursday.

Seventy people are currently assigned to the Buttermilk Fire including 11 engines, six hand crews, one helicopter, one dozer and miscellaneous overhead.

Some winds are predicted for today, but so far have been light, allowing crews to make good headway in securing a line all around the fire.

Yesterday when the fire began the Inyo County Sheriff’s Department and the Forest Service evacuated approximately 20 campers from the area, and the area remains closed to entry today while fire suppression activites are continuing. At present the Buttermilk Road and the road leading out of Starlite to the Buttermilk are both closed.

The fire has been determined to be human caused, but the exact cause is still under investigation.

Fire resources from multiple agencies rushed to the scene Wednesday afternoon. According to officials from the Interagency Dispatch Center in Bishop, the fire quickly spread due to very high and erratic winds. Firefighters and overhead personnel from the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Cal Fire and the Bishop Fire Department all responded to the scene.

As of late Wednesday afternoon the fire had burned approximately 75 to 100 acres of brush and grass 10 miles west of Bishop.

In addition to the firefighting resources, cooperators include the Inyo County Sheriffs Department, the California Highway Patrol, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. Additional resources ordered for the fire include hand crews, engines and two air tankers. Fire officials cautioned that the strong winds could ground the air resources at anytime adding to the difficulty of firefighting.

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

The MT will update as soon as information is available.