Hot gusty winds, bone-dry vegetation and low humidity are combining to whip up a deadly and fast-moving fire in Central California that has now claimed two lives near Lake Isabella, east of Bakersfield.
The fire began Thursday afternoon and soon overwhelmed the estimated 800 firefighters battling the blaze now. Officials say they hope to bring in a total of 1,000 firefighters. More than 1,900 acres have been burned and 100 structures destroyed. Thousands of people have evacuated.
As the Associated Press reports, ” ‘The forces of nature collided with a spark,’ Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall said. ‘The mountainous terrain, five years of drought and wind gusts of over 20 mph all drove a fire over 11 miles in 13 hours.’ “
The blaze moved so fast its victims had little time to escape, said officials.
The Kern County Fire is the third major blaze California has seen in two weeks.
The Sherpa Fire in Santa Barbara County forced hundreds to flee their homes north of the city of Santa Barbara last week. This week San Diego County firefighters battled a fire near the U.S.-Mexico border that destroyed five homes and burned over 7,400 acres.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, red flag warnings have been issued in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. That’s a warning to residents that weather conditions are ripe for wildfires. More hot temperatures are in the forecast.