Erskine Fire spreads to 5,000 acres, destroys 80 homes in Kern County

LAKE ISABELLA, Calif. (KABC) -- A fast-moving wildfire in Kern County destroyed at least 80 structures and forced hundreds of evacuations in rural communities near Lake Isabella on Thursday.

Officials said the blaze dubbed the Erskine Fire quickly exploded in size since it began around 4 p.m., spreading to at least 5,000 acres as it was fueled by heat in the upper 90s and low humidity.

The fire has had zero containment, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

"I've been a firefighter for nine years. This is definitely the most destructive fire I've ever been to," said Capt. Tyler Townsend with the Kern County Fire Department, who was broadcasting live on Facebook from the fire area.

Many homes in the rural area have propane tanks and some could be seen shooting flames skyward on Townsend's video.

Officials said another 1,500 structures were threatened by the fire.

A fast-moving fire near Lake Isabella in Kern County has destroyed at least 50-60 homes.

Kern County Fire Dept. via Facebook

Evacuation orders were issued for the communities of Bella Vista, South Fork, Weldon, Onyx, Lakeland Estates, Mountain Mesa, South Lake, Squirrel Valley, and Yankee Canyon.

The Kern Valley hospital was also evacuated, officials stated.

"This fire's driven by winds, steep terrain," Townsend said. "We have firefighters in here trying to protect as many homes as they can."

There were 350 firefighters at the scene, with several hundred more on the way to help battle the blaze.

Authorities said Highway 178 was closed at Highway 155 and Sierra Way.

The American Red Cross was aiding those who were forced to evacuate at Kernville Elementary School located at 13350 Sierra Way.
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