Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

Erskine Fire

Inciweb / US Forest Service

A little over a year ago, a worn out power line touched off the Erskine Fire, which razed nearly 50,000 acres near Lake Isabella east of Bakersfield. The fire devastated an area already in need of mental health care. As part of our first-person series My Valley, My Story, we hear the concerns of Heather Berry, a licensed clinical social worker who serves the entire Kern River Valley.

"Per capita, we have more mental illness, more people who suffer with emotional and mental health issues, because of the rural isolation. We also have a huge amount of substance abuse.

Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition Reporter Ezra David Romero visits the Erskine Fire burn area in Kern County. We also hear from Visalia Times Delta Reporter Jim Houck shares about the paper's series on hospitals in Visalia and Tulare. We also hear form Fresno Bee Reporter John Ellis about his coverage of Fresno's mayoral race. Later KVPR Reporter Kerry Klein chats with Susana De Anda of the Community Water Center about an award she recently received.

Inciweb / US Forest Service

In late June the Erskine Fire devastated communities around Lake Isabella in Kern County. Nearly 300 homes were destroyed in the fast moving blaze in communities like South Lake. Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for help. In late July, FEMA rejected the state's request for a major disaster declaration, and the federal help that accompanies it. That left many locals shocked and dismayed.

Kern County Fire Department

(Editorial Note: This is an evolving story likely to have updates.)

(update 6/27 5:38 p.m.)

Fire crews are making progress today on what is being called the most destructive wildfire in Kern County history, and some residents are beginning to return home.

The Erskine Fire has burned more than 45,000 acres and has destroyed 200 homes near Lake Isabella. It also killed two people.