(BAKERSFIELD, Calif.) — A fast-moving wildfire in central California has destroyed several dozen homes and forced hundreds of evacuations in rural communities in Kern County Thursday.
Dubbed the Erskine Fire, the blaze quickly exploded in size since it began around 4 p.m., spreading to more than 4,000 acres as it was fueled by intense heat in the upper 90s, according to the Kern County Fire Department.
Officials say the fire is at 0 percent containment and so far no injuries have been reported.
“I’ve been a firefighter for 9 years. This is definitely the most destructive fire I’ve ever been to,” Caption Tyler Townsend with the Kern County Fire Department said during a Facebook Live broadcast from the area.
“This fire’s driven by winds, steep terrain,” Townsend said. “We have firefighters in here trying to protect as many homes as they can.”
Townsend said while the official estimate was 50-60 homes destroyed, he believed the actual count would eventually be much higher, as more than 1,500 structures are currently threatened.
There is a greater sense of urgency as many homes in the rural area have propane tanks and some could be seen exploding in Townsend’s video.
350 firefighters are on the scene while several hundred more are en route to combat the massive fires.
Evacuations are in place for neighborhoods of Bella Vista, South Fork, Weldon, Onyx, Lakeland Estates, Mountain Mesa, South Lake, Squirrel Valley, and Yankee Canyon.
Kern Valley hospital has also been evacuated.
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