TEHACHAPI (AP) — A fire threatening 650 homes and a windmill farm was buffeted by erratic winds overnight and grew to more than 20 square miles, firefighters said Tuesday.
The fire is only 20 percent contained, officials said.
The winds died down early Tuesday and crews were aggressively attacking the blaze, said Daniel Berlant, spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Called the Canyon Fire, it started Sunday near Tehachapi in Kern County when a single-engine Cessna crashed in the remote area. At least two people are confirmed dead in the crash. Their names have not yet been released.
The fire has destroyed 12 homes and 18 outbuildings and is about 10 percent contained, Kern County Fire Department spokesman Victor Cruz said.
He said 1,255 firefighters from all over California were on the front lines, six helicopters and seven air tankers were being used on the blaze and evacuation centers were set up for people and animals.
About 200 people have evacuated the area, Berlant said.
The winds that make the area an ideal location for windmill farms stoked the flames overnight and pushed them into dry brush and grass, he said.
Gov. Jerry Brown said he asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency for financial assistance to offset costs of fighting the Canyon Fire.
Temperatures in Tehachapi were expected to approach 90 degrees Tuesday, National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt said. Wednesday, the hottest day of the week, it could go higher and Thursday it should be in the mid-80s, he said.
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