The Kern County Fire Department and Cal Fire say officially that the first report of the West Fire came at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, July 27.
But George Plesko said he noticed smoke, went to help and placed a 911 call shortly after 2 p.m.
A report by Stallion Springs CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) volunteer Kevin Murphy moves that time stamp up at least an hour.
Murphy said at 12:30 p.m. he was on Highline Road and noticed the smoke. When he got to Tehachapi Willow Springs Road, a California Highway Patrol officer who recognized Murphy's pickup stopped him and said, “Follow me.”
They drove into Old West Ranch through the east gate and found two Sheriff's deputies and two fire trucks in there, and smoke from the fire was obvious.
The CHP called a mandatory evacuation, Murphy said, and he was asked to knock on doors to alert people.
At one house, he said, the owner already was packing up and getting out.
Murphy said he was posted at the east gate until 9 that night and “a lot of people were leaving and lot of people were wanting in.”
Many water trucks from the Terra-Gen wind farm construction entered the ranch from that gate, he said.