Firefighters in the foothills of central California have made significant gains against a blaze that has killed at least two people and destroyed scores of homes in a devastating start to the state’s wildfire season, authorities said on Monday.
By Sunday night, crews had carved containment lines around 40 percent of the fire’s perimeter, up from 10 percent earlier in the day, officials said. But the property toll had risen, with about 250 structures reported lost, 50 more than previously estimated.
Fire officials said another 75 buildings have been damaged.
As of Monday morning, the so-called Erskine Fire has blackened more than 45,000 acres of drought-parched brush and grass on the fringes of Lake Isabella in Kern County, California, about 110 miles (180 km) north of Los Angeles.
The blaze erupted Thursday afternoon and spread quickly through several communities south of the lake, driven by high winds, as it roared largely unchecked for two days, forcing hundreds of residents from their homes.
On Friday, at least two people were confirmed to have been killed in the blaze, and Kern County fire authorities warned the death toll could rise as investigators comb through the rubble of homes that went up in flames.
The cause of the fire was under investigation.
More than 2,000 personnel have been assigned to the blaze, the most destructive of several wildfires burning since last week up and down the state, from the Klamath National Forest near Oregon to desert scrubland near the Mexico border.
A blistering heat wave that has baked much of California in abnormally high temperatures ranging from the upper 90s to the triple digits has been a major factor contributing to the conflagrations.