Kern County wildfire explodes in size, devastates community as residents evacuate

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Evacuees are struggling to cope after the Erskine Fire killed two and grew to 30,000 acres with little containment. (KFSN)

As the Erskine Fire keeps growing, volunteers say they're prepared to stay for the long haul.

There were so many evacuees that the Red Cross had to open up another shelter at St. Jude's Catholic Church.

"Within a matter of 30 seconds, it caught three blocks of houses on fire and just raged right through," resident Stacey Salem said after losing her home.

We're hearing the same harrowing tales of escape in communities across Lake Isabella.

"So the winds were blowing so hard it blew up the backside of the mountain and he had probably 10 minutes," resident Kevin Salyer described. "He grabbed a few things and the man his house was gone."

Stories of bravery, stories about loss, and ,most importantly, stories of neighbors coming to each other's rescue.

"We were actually going through flames and getting people out they had no idea," Salyer said. "A really good friend of mine had been asleep didn't know there was even a fire period."

As of 6 p.m. Friday night, more than 100 homes burned and 30,000 acres charred.

Over 800 firefighters on scene and dozens more rushing to Kern County.

"Due to the 5-year drought that we've had, it's just really bad," Anthony Romero of the Kern County Fire Department said. "Everything just came together to make this the worst fire I have ever seen."

The fire consumed an entire mobile home park in a matter of minutes, heavy winds fanned the flames north beyond those ridges.

"It's very scary, it's very intense, very tiring," Romero said. "Our crews have been on almost 48 hours so they are exhausted."

By Friday night, more than 100 people have taken refuge inside the shelter. Two people are dead and hundreds of others uncertain if their homes are still standing, wondering what tomorrow will bring.

"You've got to keep them in your prayers," Salem said. "And you got to rebuild, there's nothing that we can't overcome."
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