UPDATE 7:45 p.m.
The Erskine Fire was 40 percent contained Sunday evening at 43,460 acres. Fire managers say more than 250 structures have been destroyed and an additional 75 damaged.
The InciWeb update says "a damage inspection team is in the process of creating a comprehensive report documenting all structures damaged or destroyed."
More than 2,079 firefighters are working to contain the wildfire. Two people have been killed.
The Erskine Fire near Lake Isabella in Kern County has destroyed more than 250 homes and burned 43,460 acres since it started on June 23. InciWeb / Courtesy
UPDATE 4 p.m.
The fire is 10 percent contained at 36,810 acres. More than 1,712 firefighters are working to contain the fire in 90 degree temperatures and low humidity.
Fire officials say more than 200 structures have been destroyed and 75 additional structures are damaged. Two people have died in the fire and officials say "additional fatalities are possible due to the extreme fire behavior during the initial hours of the incident."
The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that "authorities believe the couple died of smoke inhalation after waves of fire, smoke and embers invaded their neighborhood on Thursday." Their names have not been released by the Kern County Coroner.
The cause of the Erskine Fire is under investigation.
UPDATE June 26 7:30 a.m.
- Fire increases to 36,810 acres and is 10 percent contained
- More than 1,712 personnel are working to contain the fire
- Evacuation areas: Hwy 178 to Kelso Valley to Paiute, Bella Vista, South Fork, Weldon, Onyx, Lakeland Estates, Mountain Mesa, South Lake, Squirrel Valley, and Yankee Canyon
Shelters: The American Red Cross of Kern County has two shelters open for residents affected by the fire.
- St. Jude's Catholic Church 86 Nellie Dent Dr. Wofford Heights
- Kernville Elementary School 13350 Sierra Way Kernville
The Red Cross Safe & Well site is available for those looking for loved ones affected by evacuations: https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php
- Road Closures: Hwy 178 is closed at Hwy 155 and at Sierra Way
- Recreation Closures: The Pacific Crest Trail is closed from Walker Basin Campground to Jawbone Canyon Road
- Damage Assessment: At least 150 homes have been destroyed and an additional 75 damaged. A damage inspection team is in the process of creating a comprehensive report documenting all structures damaged or destroyed
The Erskine started on BLM managed public lands at the junction of Erskine Creek Road and Apollo Way at approximately 3:51 p.m. June 23. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, Kern County Sheriffs Office and Kern County Fire District are in unified command. Many other agencies are assisting, including Cal Fire, Red Cross, Caltrans, animal control, and law enforcement from local, county, state, and federal agencies.
The Erskine Fire near Lake Isabella in Kern County has destroyed more than 150 homes and burned 36,810 acres since it started on June 23. Kern County Fire Department / Facebook
UPDATE June 25 4 p.m.
UPDATE 9:30 p.m. The Erskine Fire near Lake Isabella in Kern County has grown to 30,000 acres and is 5 percent contained.
The National Interagency Fire Center update says the Pacific Crest Trail is closed from Walker Basin Campground to Jawbone Canyon Road.
Since the fire started, 100 structures have been destroyed and 1,500 are threatened. The Kern County Fire Department says two Lake Isabella residents were killed in the fire trying to escape it.
"Residents in the Lake Isabella and Erskine Creek area should prepare for possible evacuation," according to the NIFC update. "Additional evacuation information will be posted when it is available.
"Evacuations remain in effect for Bella Vista, South Fork, Weldon, Onyx, Lakeland Estates, Mountain Mesa, South Lake, Squirrel Valley, and Yankee Canyon. Hwy 178 is closed at Hwy 155 and at Sierra Way. Kernville Elementary School is now the primary shelter for evacuees. There are approximately 125 evacuees at the elementary school."
Three firefighters have suffered smoke inhalation injuries.
Fire officials say the fire started on BLM managed public lands at the junction of Erskine Creek Road and Apollo Way at approximately 3:51 p.m. Thursday, June 23.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and Kern County Fire District are in unified command. Many other agencies are assisting, including CalFire, Red Cross, Caltrans, animal control, and law enforcement from local, county, state, and federal agencies.
Cal Fire reported on June 24 that more than 4,500 firefighters were working to contain six large wildfires in California, covering more than 30,000 acres.
UPDATE 6:30 p.m. (AP) — Authorities say two people who died in a central California wildfire were trying to flee when they were killed.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said at a news conference Friday that the two were outside of their house and overcome with smoke when they died in the massive blaze in the Lake Isabella area.
He released no further details on the two dead.
Youngblood said his department hasn't been able to search very extensively and would be looking through burned homes with cadaver dogs seeking more possible victims.
County fire officials say the blaze has grown to nearly 47 square miles since breaking out Thursday and is still burning out of control.
It has destroyed 80 homes and forced the evacuation of 1,500 more.
UPDATE 2:05 p.m. (AP) - Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency for Kern County due to the Erskine Fire near Lake Isabella.
A wildfire that has destroyed 80 homes and killed two people has prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in Central California.
The proclamation issued Friday frees up money and resources for the firefight and the aftermath of the blaze.
It also temporarily suspends some state regulations and waives fees as a way to ease the return of evacuees and those who have lost homes.
Brown's statement offers condolences to those affected by the fire and commends the courage of firefighters.
The blaze began Thursday and quickly tore through rural neighborhoods near Lake Isabella northeast of Bakersfield.
Some 1,500 homes are under evacuation orders.
UPDATE 1:15 p.m. (AP) - Authorities say a wildfire roaring through mountain communities in central California has killed two people.
Kern County fire spokesman Phil Neufeld says Friday that two residents were found dead in Lake Isabella, a popular recreation area east of Bakersfield.
No other details are immediately available.
The wind-whipped fire has destroyed 80 homes in the southern Sierra Nevada and exploded to more than 29 square miles.
It erupted Thursday afternoon and moved so fast that many people had little time to flee as propane tanks exploded and smoke obscured the path to safety.
Original (AP) - Authorities say a new wildfire has burned approximately 100 homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate from rural communities in Central California northeast of Bakersfield.
The Kern County Fire Department gave the estimate of homes lost shortly after the blaze broke out near Lake Isabella late Thursday afternoon. It has burned about 2,000 acres and about 1,500 homes are under threat.
Authorities say the small rural communities of Squirrel Mountain Valley, South Fork, Weldon, Onyx, Lakeland Estates, Yankee Canyon and Mountain Mesa are also under evacuation orders.
There are also power and cell phone outages in the area.
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