Deadly Erskine Fire grows to 43,460 acres, 40 percent contained

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KABC) -- The Erskine Fire, the massive wildfire in Kern County, has burned through 43,460 acres and destroyed 250 homes, according to CalFire officials.

The fire, which is now considered the largest California wildfire of 2016 so far, was 40 percent contained on Sunday, CalFire stated.

Two people were confirmed to have died in the fire, and on Saturday, the Kern County Sheriff's Office said it was investigating possible human remains found in South Lake, a small community in the Kern River Valley.

"At this point we haven't confirmed if the remains are human or not," a sheriff's official said. "We are going to maintain the scene and treat it as a homicide scene until we determine otherwise."

Neighbors said the two people confirmed to have died in the fire were an elderly couple who had medical problems and could not escape the fast-moving fire.

MORE: 2 dead in massive Erskine Fire in Kern County

The blaze forced hundreds of evacuations in rural communities. About 75 other homes were damaged by the fire, and about 2,500 structures were threatened by the blaze, fire officials said.

The Erskine Fire exploded in size quickly after breaking out near Lake Isabella at about 4 p.m. on Thursday. By evening, it had burned through 5,000 acres due to low humidity and high heat conditions.

Gov. Jerry Brown declares state of emergency for Kern County due to Erskine Fire

It tripled in size by Friday night. A total of 2,079 firefighters were battling the fire and three suffered smoke inhalation.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Officials set up a call center to assist those affected by the fire. The call center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Those needing assistance can call (661) 873-2660.

Authorities also urged residents to not fly drones in the area, as officials said two drones in two days have grounded firefighting aircraft.
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