Some Kern County residents allowed home as firefighters make strides against wildfire

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In all, 200 structures have been destroyed, another 75 damaged while some are untouched. (KFSN)

There was encouraging news Monday in the effort to contain a deadly wildfire in Kern County.

Areas such as Mountain Mesa and Yankee Canyon and areas east of South Lake along Highway 178 are open to residents again. But South Lake itself and Squirrel Valley are still off limits.

Some roads near Lake Isabella were reopened Monday, allowing residents to return to their homes.

But resident Lloyd Becker and his wife took the back way in. It's been four days since the Erskine Fire came knocking at their back door.

"And all of a sudden the sky got black," Becker said. "And we looked out there was the fire on top of the mountain."

Within 15 minutes, it was a block from their house.

They evacuated, and have stayed with friends in Lake Isabella since.

Their house is still standing, but just next door, a house was destroyed.

Becker says a Kern County firefighter lived there with his family.

"Almost 20 years living here," he said. "And you think that your house is going to be gone in just minutes. When you're 80-years-old, you don't have too much to look forward to."

On Monday, firefighters are focusing on the south side of the fire, miles away from Lake Isabella.

Wind, triple digit temperatures and limited access continue to be challenges.

Closer to the lake, Southern California Edison crews are also working hard in the extreme heat to turn the power back on, which they've done for 2,300 residents affected by the fire so far.

Hundreds more are still waiting.

"And so as soon as they can get those lines energized, these folks will have electricity again," Abby Bolt with the US Forest Service said. "We've got issues with water, sanitation."

For Bolt, this fire is personal.

She grew up here, her family lives here, and they have some damage to their homes. In all, 200 structures have been destroyed, another 75 damaged while some are untouched.

But whatever their situation residents here hope they can go back soon to continue living or start rebuilding.
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