Dozens of Homes Burn in Calif. Brush Fire

Fast-moving fire has destroyed at least 80 buildings
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 24, 2016 1:55 AM CDT
Dozens of Homes Burn in Calif. Brush Fire
A Kern County firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on the Erskine fire in Lake Isabella, Calif.   (Casey Christie)

Dozens of homes burned to the ground as a wildfire raged over ridges and tore through rural communities in central California, authorities say. The streaking blaze that burned at least 80 homes and other buildings northeast of Bakersfield around Lake Isabella came just as many others across Western states were calming, the AP reports. It broke out late Thursday afternoon amid heat in the 90s and single-digit humidity, climbing over at least three ridges into hillside neighborhoods, Kern County fire Capt. Tyler Townsend says.

No injuries were reported, but some homes are already little more than embers on the ground. "I've never been in a wildland fire where I've seen so many homes burn," Townsend says. "It's one of the most devastating I've ever seen." The fire has burned over 7 square miles, and about 1,500 homes are under threat. Several thousand people are under evacuation orders, but some are refusing to evacuate, says Townsend, who warns that many houses in the area have propane tanks, adding to the danger. Elsewhere in the state, cooler weather helped crews fighting two fires that burned more than 8 square miles of chaparral and brush in the Angeles National Forest and foothill communities northeast of Los Angeles. (More California wildfires stories.)

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