California is battling two wildfires in the Kern County area that has kept local, state, and federal officials on their toes as evacuation orders have so far spared any loss of life or injury.
Some 700 people from Kern County, California, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service are struggling to contain the fire, dubbed the "Bull Fire" now burning near the former goldrush town of Kernville. Since yesterday, the fire managed to jump the Kern River and burn homes on the opposite side, and the entire town of Riverkern has been evacuated, along with 120 teenagers from the Camp Owen juvenile detention facility.
The fire has now expanded beyond 5,000 acres and has closed the area down to summer tourists.
The area, popular with white water rafting enthusiasts, has been closed for all such activities in the upper Kern River, as more than a dozen firefighting helicopters are using the water to refuel and dump on the mammoth flames.
When asked how long the area would be closed, Kern County Fire Department spokesman Sean Collins told local media that between the helicopters and the fire itself, under no circumstances should anyone brave the river.
"There should not be anybody getting into that area," he said. "Until we don't need a water supply, I guess it's gonna be that way."
While the evacuation have been bad for local rafting businesses, some have been able to continue work, ferrying firefighters across the Kern River.
Kern County is also having to contend with a second fire (now being called the "West Fire") that began today near the town of Tehachapi, which has so far forced the evacuation of 370 homes.
The cause of both fires remains unknown.