KERN COUNTY, Calif., June 24 (UPI) — As other parts of the Golden State continue to battle wildfires, authorities said Friday that a new fire has led to the deaths of at least two people and has destroyed more than 80 homes in California.
The blaze is burning in Kern County, near Bakersfield, and is now the most destructive California wildfire to personal property.
Fire officials said about 2,000 people have been evacuated from the area and crews are trying to protect about 1,500 homes in the fire’s path. More than 800 firefighters are working to contain the wildfire.
By Friday afternoon, the Erskine Fire had already burned nearly 20,000 acres, officials said — up from just 5,000 acres earlier in the day.
“I’ve never been in a wildland fire where I’ve seen so many homes burn,” Kern County Fire Capt. Tyler Townsend said Friday. “It’s one of the most devastating I’ve ever seen.”
The mostly rural area has many homes with propane tanks that shot flames into the sky as the homes burned.
“This fire is driven by winds, steep terrain,” Townsend said. “We have firefighters in here trying to protect as many homes as they can.”
The cause of the fire is under investigation.