Updated at 3 p.m.
Fire and county emergency management officials provided this update on the fire and related activities:
Containment: 60 percent
Total personnel: 1,740
Estimated containment date: July 5
Fuels involved: Brush and short grass
Significant events: Creeping, smoldering fire. Heavy fuels in the Piute fire footprint from 2008 continue to burn.
Planned actions: Continue to prepare and protect threatened structures. Construct and improve containment lines. Mop up where it can be done safely.
Future activity: The fire is expected to remain active into the evening. Spotting is possible due to winds.
The fire received varying amounts of rain, reducing the fire behavior to creeping and smoldering. Heavy fuels continue to hold heat and burn until put out or consumed.
Weather concerns: 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Strong winds possible along with dry lightning strikes.
Road closures: Closures off Highway 178 continue at McCray Road and Dogwood, at Entrada south of Highway 178, and Kelso Valley and Kelso Creek Road.
Repopulation efforts: A transition center with information for residents is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Wallace Middle School, 3240 Erskine Creek Road. A shuttle takes people from evacuation shelters to the transition center and Kern Valley High School, where the Sikh Friends of Bakersfield is offering free meals to Erskine Fire victims, responders and volunteers from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Four temporary collection sites have been set up to take food waste resulting from power outages. They close Friday. They’re open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Mountain Mesa Park, 4361 McCray Road, Weldon Southern Baptist Church, 20647 Highway 178, South Lake Car Wash off the Frontage Road and Highway 178, Onyx Store, 23822 Highway 178 and Easy Street.
The Kern County Public Works Department has scheduled a special One Day Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event on Saturday, July 23, to collect the household hazardous waste from affected properties. It runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mountain Mesa Park.
Public Health: Kern County Public Health and the State of California will offer a debris cleanup assistance program. More details to come.
Utilities: As of 1 p.m., about 2,800 customers remained without power. SCE is coordinating with county officials on their distribution of ice and water to residents in the area. SCE will also continue outreach efforts to critical care customers in the area.
As of Wednesday, 138 of more than 200 distribution poles, and 24 of 30 transmission poles have been replaced. Delivery of a generator to Mountain Mesa Hospital arrived at 11 a.m. and is being hooked up. SCE wants to remind customers that electric service interruptions are possible over the next several days due to ongoing infrastructure repair and replacement activities.
Amerigas Propane encouraged customers returning to their homes to call their energy provider prior to turning their system back on, if their system was turned off, or if they have had any interruption of service. Amerigas officials state that, “The National Fire Protection Association requires a leak check to be performed whenever propane supply is turned off prior to re-installing service.”
Amerigas Propane will waive the leak check fee for all Amerigas Propane customers in areas affected by the fire.
Updated at 3 p.m.
The Bakersfield Californian photographer Casey Christie has returned from talking with residents in South Lake, including an interview with 67-year-old Kye Seale, who lost his home. Christie also captured video of fire crews from Bakersfield returning home after the long fight against the Erskine Fire.
Updated at 2:45 p.m.
The United States Forest Service campgrounds along California 178 opened on Wednesday in anticipation for the upcoming holiday, Incident Information Website InciWeb reported.
The areas include Auxiliary, Old Isabella, South Fork and Paradise Cove.
Authorities warn that while facilities are open, the public should not depend on water being available at Old Isabella, South Fork and Paradise Cove. The water at Auxiliary is operational according to the website.
Updated at 2:30 p.m.
The Kern County Sheriff’s Department has released information about the resources available to those affected by the Erskine Fire.
Updated at 1:00 p.m.
On Tuesday, American Red Cross PIO Jessica Piffero was at The Californian to talk about what Kern County residents can do to help those affected by the Erskine Fire. She said the most helpful donation people can give is a financial donation.”
“Every disaster is unique and it’s the quickest, easiest and best way to get help to those who need it,” Piffero said.
Monetary donations can be made at the American Red Cross Website.
Updated at 12:15 p.m.
Incident information system InciWeb has reported that shuttles have now been established from evacuation centers to transition centers in areas affected by the Erskine Fire. The location of the center is Wallace Elementary School at 3240 Erskine Creek Rd. in Lake Isabella. Normal hours of operation will be from 9AM-6PM, according to InciWeb.
Authorities report that the function of the transition center is to provide information to residents about what resources are available to them during this time of crisis.
InciWeb reported road closures: Road closures off of Hwy 178 continue at McCray Rd and Dogwood, at Entrada south of Hwy 178, and Kelso Valley and Kelso Creek Rd.
The EOC call center is operational from 8AM-8PM each day and can be reached at 661-873-2660.
You can find more information on the InciWeb Website.
Update at 11:50 p.m.
The Twitter for The Californian’s Eye Street section has confirmed that the Lake Isabella firework show will continue despite the area suffering damage from the Erskine Fire. You can find more info on that and other celebrations down below:
Updated at 11:30 a.m.
California Water Service is urging some residents returning to their homes to drink bottled water until the quality of their water can be tested. Yesterday evening, the service cancelled the boil water advisory that was issued for Cal Water's Squirrel Valley (our Squirrel Mountain system), South Lake, Mountain Mesa, and Onyx customers.
Tests also confirm the water quality was not impacted by the power and water outages caused by the fire, according to Cal Water, and residents in some areas no longer need to boil water or used bottled water for drinking, preparing food, or brushing teeth.
For a full list of locations impacted, visit: Cal Water’s Website.
Updated at 11 a.m.
Californian photographer Casey Christie was near Lake Isabella on Tuesday to photograph the devastation and daily battle that firefighters are still waging against the Erskine Fire. His video footage captures the destruction of just some of the sites from the area:
Updated at 9:30 a.m.
The Erskine Fire was 60 percent contained and had grown to 46,684 acres, fire officials reported at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The update posted to the multi-agency website Inciweb also reported about the fire:
Costs to date: $15.8 million
Total Personnel: 1,511
Today’s fire summary:
There was no significant fire activity last night. Additionally, no new starts within the fire zone resulted from yesterday’s thunderstorms. The fire received varying amounts of rain, reducing fire behavior to creeping and smoldering. There is a 20 percent chance for showers and thunderstorms today.
Crews and resources continue their efforts to bring the two ends of the containment line together, from the Pack Trail on the north end and Landers Meadow on the south. In areas where containment is complete, crews are repairing damage from fire-suppression activity in order to prevent additional resource damage.
Smoke will be visible over the next several days as unburned pockets of grass and trees within the fire’s perimeter continue to burn. When reporting smoke, it’s important to know if the smoke is new or from unburned areas within the fire’s interior. Response to the report will be dispatched as appropriate.
The incident continues to support the community-recovery effort as needed.
Safety: Highway 178 is now open. There is increased traffic on the highway from the public, residents and fire vehicles. Motorists should drive defensively, exercise caution, and reduce their speed.
Homeowner re-entry: There are no evacuations in place. Residents can return to their homes with ID for proof of residency.
Kern County’s Office of Emergency Services’ transition center is open to support the needs of recently evacuated residents who are now returning to their homes. The center is located at Woodrow W. Wallace Middle School at 3240 Erskine Creek Road in Lake Isabella. Normal hours of operation will be from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Call the Kern County Emergency Operations Center at 661-873-2660 for more information on homeowner re-entry. The center hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Shelters: Shelters are open for residents affected by the fire and will remain open until further notice. Locations: St. Jude's Catholic Church in Wofford Heights and Kernville Elementary School, Kernville. The Red Cross Safe and Well site is https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
Road closures: Highway 178 is open. Road closures continue off of 178 at McCray Road and Dogwood, at Entrada and Highway 178, and Kelso Valley and Kelso Creek Road.
Drone intrusion: An UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems), commonly referred to a “drone,” intrusion occurred over the Erskine Fire, requiring air operations to be grounded for a period of time. All UAS, of any size or weight, are considered aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and are subject to FAA regulations. UAS may not be flown within a temporary flight restriction (TFR) under any circumstances without prior approval by FAA and the agency that requested the TFR.