Residents forced to flee as wildfire rages in Kern County

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For nearly 24 hours, more than 100 Kern County residents have taken shelter at Kernville Elementary. (KFSN)

For nearly 24 hours, more than 100 Kern County residents have taken shelter at Kernville Elementary.

"It was scary everything was on fire," 8-year-old Alexis Lopez said.

As a devastating wildfire rips through the area, officials try to offer words of encouragement."

"We're going to hit this fire hard, we're going to try to hit it fast," fire crews said. "We're going to try to be safe."

There was uncertainty and tension at the evacuation center where dozens don't know if they have a home to return to.

"It's hard because the kids are scared we just got to stay strong for them," evacuee Christina Chaparro said.

"I had to stay inside because the sky was orange and I had asthma," Alexis said.

Chaparro and her family of 9 left their Squirrel Valley home before evacuations because the smoke became unbearable. She says what's most comforting during these tragic times is that the community that's come together.

"They offered showers at the campground so we're going to take advantage of that later," she said. "They're feeding us trying to make us feel comfortable, giving them books and puzzles."

Resident Doug Dowell remains positive after losing all of his belongings in the fire.

"We're safe and that's what matters," he said. "The house is gone everything else is gone. You can replace things but you can't replace lives."

The retired firefighter moved from Sacramento just 4 days ago.

"We haven't even unpacked," he said. "Well, there's a lot of people worse off than we are. I'm alive, babies are alive, dogs are alive."
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