Air and ground crews working around the clock to battle Erskine Fire

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It's been a busy day out at the fire attack air base in Porterville. (KFSN)

The Erskine Fire pushed east into the mountains overnight, burning wildly and uncontrolled.

Residents grabbed what they could from their homes as flames spread down the mountains.

It's been a busy day out at the fire attack air base in Porterville.

Crews are out refueling and loading up retardant on to planes, ready to go back to the fire.

With so many planes coming and going, Raul Contreras has his hands full.

"Bravo-one-niner, be on the ground there in seven to eight minutes," he said on his radio.

He's the Air Attack Base manager in the city, which is northwest of the Erskine fire, and he's in charge of traffic control.

"Saw pictures of it and was like, 'Wow,'" he said. "It makes you wonder how fast that fire is moving on them."

The wind is driving the fire through steep terrain and consuming everything in its path.

Firefighters called in air support Thursday night and since then the planes have been dropping retardant on the flames and coming back to pick up more.

"Our pumps can do 450 gallons a minute so this is pretty smooth, getting them in and out, it's not a big deal." Contreras said.

On Friday, there were four to five planes on the base at a time, including the heavies -- the C-130s and the S2 tankers.

But there's space for 10 to 12 helicopters were also flying in.

Some of the aircraft flew back to Kern County others, went north to another fire near Tahoe.

"Unfortunately, it's early and we're getting this kind of fire movement," Contreras said.

For Contreras, it's been a long day but he says this is just the beginning.

"I'd say, 'Yeah,' he said. "It's going to be a lot worse."

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wildfiretulare countyPorterville
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