Deadly California wildfire spreads, 1,500 structures threatened

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2 Killed, 1,500 Structures Threatened By Erskine Fire; Containment At 5 Percent

(Reuters) - A California wildfire that has killed two people and destroyed about 100 structures has spread and is threatening about 1,500 structures, fire officials said on Saturday.

About 800 firefighters have been deployed to battle the so-called Erskine Fire, which broke out on Thursday afternoon in the foothills of Kern County about 40 miles (65 km) northeast of Bakersfield.

The fire, one of the worst in an already intense California fire season, is estimated to be about 35,700 acres (14,450 hectares) in size and there is zero percent containment, fire officials told people at an evacuation shelter in comments they broadcast over the internet.

The fire, fueled by chaparral and short grass on parched lands, has caused hundreds of people to flee their homes for safety ahead of the flames.

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Smoke from wildfires rises from a hillside near power lines outside Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. AP Photo/Nick Ut)
Smoke from wildfires burning in Angeles National Forest fills the sky behind the Los Angeles skyline on Monday, June 20, 2016. The wildfires several miles apart devoured hundreds of acres of brush on steep slopes above foothill suburbs erupted in Southern California as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region with triple-digit temperatures. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
A firefighting plane makes a retardant drop on a hill near a wildfire in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A wildfire burns around homes built near a hilltop in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A firefighting helicopter makes a water drop on a hill near a wildfire in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A wildfire burns next to homes built near a hilltop in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A firefighting plane makes a retardant drop on a hill near a wildfire in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A firefighter watches as a helicopter making a drop on a wildfire in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. The wildfires several miles apart devoured hundreds of acres of brush on steep slopes above foothill suburbs erupted in Southern California as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region with triple-digit temperatures. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
A wildfire burns on a hill near Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires started in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A helicopter drops water on wildfire on a hill near Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires started in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A Dodger Stadium employees walks through the parking lot as a large plume of smoke generated by two wildfires on the San Gabriel Mountains is visible in the distance Monday, June 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. New wildfires erupted in Southern California as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region with triple-digit temperatures. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
An elephant catches a stick from elephant keeper, Cassie Rogge Dodds at the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Ariz., Monday, June 20, 2016. Dodds rounded up the zoo's six elephants into a small pool in an effort to keep them cool during an extreme heat wave in Arizona and other parts of the Southwest. Temperatures reached 100 degrees by mid-morning, and zoo workers say they work to keep the animals safe, even though elephants in this display are from South Africa and are used to extreme heat. (AP Photo/Astrid Galvan)
Elephants frolic in a pool as temperatures soared past 100 degrees at the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, Ariz., Monday, June 20, 2016. Temperatures reached 100 degrees by mid-morning, and zoo workers say they work to keep the animals safe, even though elephants in this display are from South Africa and are used to extreme heat. (AP Photo/Astrid Galvan)
Towering columns of smoke rise from two wildfires on the San Gabriel Mountains are viewed from Pasadena, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. The wildfires several miles apart devoured hundreds of acres of brush on steep slopes above foothill suburbs erupted in Southern California as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region with triple-digit temperatures. (AP Photo/Beth Harris)
Dodger Stadium employees are transported to the stadium as a large plume of smoke generated by two wildfires on the San Gabriel Mountains is visible Monday, June 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. New wildfires erupted in Southern California as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region with triple-digit temperatures. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
A firefighting plane makes a retardant drop on a hill near a Azusa wildfire in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A helicopter drops water on a hill near a wildfire in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A firefighting plane makes a retardant drop on a hill near a Azusa wildfire in Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted Monday in Southern California and chased people from their homes as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A wildfire spreads across a hillside as it burns near power lines just north of Azusa, Calif., Monday, June 20, 2016. New wildfires erupted in Southern California as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region with triple-digit temperatures. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)
A large plume of smoke generated by two wildfires on the San Gabriel Mountains is viewed from Dodger Stadium, Monday, June 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. New wildfires erupted in Southern California as an intensifying heat wave stretching from the West Coast to New Mexico blistered the region with triple-digit temperatures. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Horses rest in a corral at Ponderosa Stables in Phoenix, Ariz., on Monday June 20, 2016. The horses normally take visitors on trail rides in South Mountain Park and Reserve, but in extreme summer heat, their wrangles remove their saddles and give them the afternoon off. (AP Photo/ Beatriz Costa-Lima)
Traffic moves along the I-17 Interstate as the haze and heat waves rise above the landscape with South Mountain in the background as temperatures climb to 115-degrees Monday, June 20, 2016, in Phoenix. The National Weather Service is expecting another day of triple-digit temperatures in Phoenix and across much of the Southwest, including temperatures up to 122-degrees in some parts of Arizona. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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The blaze has also sent three firefighters to the hospital for smoke inhalation. California Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for Kern County.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told a Friday evening press conference that two people had been killed in the inferno and more fatalities could be discovered once authorities are able to search burned-out neighborhoods.

"My heart goes out to everyone here who has lost a home and my heart goes out to the family that perished yesterday in the fire," Sergeant Henry Bravo of the sheriff's office told evacuees on Saturday.

To the south, firefighters were struggling to manage the so-called San Gabriel Complex fire in the foothills of Los Angeles County. There were two fires that started on Friday and cover a combined 5,285 acres (2,139 hectares), fire officials said. Containment was at nearly 50 percent for both blazes.

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