Branch fire 50 percent contained

Staff Writer
Taft Midway Driller
Smoke from Branch fire in the California Valley colored  Tuesday's sunset at the Oilworker Monument

Firefighters are gaining the upper hand on a large brush fire burning in the California Valley.

By 7 a.m. Wednesday, the Branch fire was 50 percent contained after burning 3,022 acres, Cal Fire San Luis Obispo reported.

The fire broke out Tuesday afternoon in the area of Soda Lake Road and Branch Mountain Road and forced the closure of Highway 58 for a time.

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office evacuated residents living in the area of Belmont Trail near the fire Tuesday afternoon.

Cal Fire said two structures and 10 outbuildings burned in the fire.

At one point as many as nine air tankers were dropping fire retardant on the fire at one point.

The Kern County Fire Department sent two bulldozers to assist.