Two fires in Arvin, just blocks away from each other, displaced 20 people and killed more than 50 animals.
Firefighters were heading to an apartment fire near Bear Mountain Boulevard and Comanche Road when they noticed smoke coming from a nearby livestock corral.
“The way the weather is, just a little bit of breeze, that’s what created the most spread of the fire,” said Kern Fire battalion chief Jim Eckroth.
At the apartment, the flames scorched half the building. No one was seriously injured, but all units were evacuated.
Just two blocks away, a different kind of residence was burning. Flames started in the center of a corral and worked their way out.
When firefighters arrived, they cut open as many pens as possible to allow the surviving animals to escape. Still, more than 50 animals–some horses and cattle, but mostly goats and chickens–didn’t make it.
“I think it can happen to any of us, you know? As much as we try as best we can to set everything up and keep all of our animals safe,” said Taylor Bartley, a local farm helper.
While no people suffered serious burns, Eckroth says some firefighters were slightly singed.
Each pen in the corral is rented out to individuals, so Kern County Animal Services says removing the dead livestock will be each owners’ responsibility.
In the aftermath of the fire, farm workers have been focusing on making emergency plans for similar situations in the future.
“There is no easy, smooth, quick way to move large animals, especially when you have a lot of them. So having a plan will definitely help,” Bartley said.
For now, Kern Red Cross has provided emergency funds to the families displaced in the apartment.