Lake Isabella

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.

Kerry Klein/KVPR

In the Sierra Nevada, it’s estimated that tens of millions of trees have died as a result of drought, many of which succumbed to infestations from bark beetles. As a result, we’ve been told our risk of wildfire is far higher than normal, but FM89’s Kerry Klein says the science doesn’t necessarily agree.

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.

Google Maps

California’s drought is about to hit Kern County in a big way. FM89’s Joe Moore reports on why officials are concerned Lake Ming could dry up next month.

Officials call the situation unprecedented. With the Kern River projected for its lowest level since records began in 1894, the City of Bakersfield has announced that it won’t get any new water from the river this year. The city is currently drawing down what little water it has stored in Lake Isabella, and that’s likely to be exhausted by mid-July.

Incident Information System

  Update: As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, the blaze is 90 percent contained and has charred 2,646 acres. All evacuations have been lifted.

A rapidly moving wildfire in the Sequoia National Forest has already engulfed 2,200 acres and is threatening 1,000 homes near the Kern County community of Lake Isabella. KVPR’s Diana Aguilera reports.

Pushed by strong winds, the Shirley Fire has already destroyed homes and is burning in steep, rugged terrain about 40 miles northeast of Bakersfield.

Sierra National Forest

Fires sparked by lightning on Saturday  continue to burn today in rugged terrain in the Sierra Nevada mountains, nearly a week after they began. In the Sierra National Forest east of Fresno the Bear Fire has consumed over 700 acres of timber between Edison and Florence Lake.

Ten smoke jumpers, four helicopters and four fixed wing aircraft are battling the blaze, which is in terrain ranging from 7,500 to 9,000 feet in elevation. The fire is currently 50 percent contained. No structures are threatened. 

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