2 Dead in California Fire That Torched 19,000 Acres

The cause of the fire is not known, officials say.

— -- Firefighters in central California are struggling to contain a devastating fire of "epic proportions" that's killed two people, according to Kern County Fire.

The Erskine fire, which began Thursday afternoon, continues to spread today across the Lake Isabella area of Kern County. It's affected more than 19,000 acres.

California Gov. Edmund Grown declared a state of emergency for Kern County.

“Anne and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to everyone impacted by this destructive blaze,” said Brown said in a statement. “We join all Californians in expressing our gratitude to the courageous firefighters, emergency personnel and volunteers working tirelessly throughout Kern County to help residents and extinguish this fire.”

As of this morning, about 100 structures were lost and 1,500 more were threatened.

The cause of the fire is not known, Tyler Townsend of Erskine Creek Fire said this morning.

There are 600 firefighters battling the blaze with several hundred more expected to arrive on scene.

Officials have called it a "firefight of epic proportions."

With wind gusts over 20 miles per hour, the fire covered 11 miles in 13 hours.

"I've been a firefighter for nine years," Townsend said during a Facebook Live broadcast Thursday. "This is definitely the most destructive fire I've ever been to."

"This fire's driven by winds, steep terrain," he continued. "We have firefighters in here trying to protect as many homes as they can."

Evacuations are in place for some neighborhoods and the Kern Valley hospital has also been evacuated. There was a great sense of urgency as many homes in the area have propane tanks and some could be seen exploding in Townsend's video.

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