LAKE ISABELLA (AP) — A new wildfire on Thursday burned 50 to 60 homes and forced hundreds of people to evacuate from rural communities in Central California northeast of Bakersfield, authorities said.
The Kern County Fire Department gave the estimate of homes lost shortly after the blaze broke out near Lake Isabella in late afternoon amid heat in the 90s and single-digit humidity.READ MORE: Teens Urged To Get Vaccinated With Eligibility Opened Up To People 16 And Older
It quickly exploded in size. The fire has burned nearly four square miles, and about 1,000 homes are under threat.
Live video from fire officials at the scene showed hillside homes along dirt roads consumed by heavy flames in Squirrel Mountain Valley, a community of about 500 people. Smoky haze could be seen for miles around in the evening air as planes and helicopters made drops on the blaze.
The blaze is “extremely dangerous, extremely volatile,” fire Capt. Tyler Townsend said.
The losses for the area were “more than I can remember in any fire in the last several years,” Townsend said. “In a matter of four hours, it’s burned through several communities.”
The small rural communities of South Fork, Weldon, Onyx, Lakeland Estates, Yankee Canyon and Mountain Mesa were also under evacuation orders.
Some residents were refusing to evacuate, Townsend said.READ MORE: LA County Parks Re-Opens Its Junior Lake Lifeguard Program
There are also power and cellphone outages in the area.
Elsewhere in the state, cooler weather helped crews fighting two fires that burned more than 8 square miles of chaparral and brush in the Angeles National Forest and foothill communities northeast of Los Angeles. The fires were 15 percent contained.
More than 1,300 homes were evacuated during the 4-day-old blaze, but around half have been allowed back.
On Thursday, authorities let hundreds of evacuated residents return briefly to homes in Azusa and Duarte to gather belongings. Residents might not be allowed back permanently for several more days, officials said.
One of the fires broke out Monday when a car ran off a highway. No homes have burned.
Near the San Diego County border with Mexico, an 11-square-mile fire was 35 percent contained after burning five homes. A majority of evacuees were cleared to return at 6 p.m. Thursday.
A heat wave coupled with nightly wind gusts drove the fires earlier in the week before slightly cooler weather took hold. But National Weather Service forecasts warned red-flag conditions of extreme fire danger could return by evening.MORE NEWS: Pageant Of The Masters, Newport Beach Jazz Festival Announce 2021 Dates
(© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)