Two men left homeless. Fire is suspicious, firefighters say and is the latest in a string of fires in the area
The fire that destroyed a South Taft home Thursday night, leaving two men homeless, is being called suspicious.
It was only the latest in a string of fires in the same area.
“We've had five fires in this area in the last three weeks,” Kern County Fire Department Battalion Chief Sean Fraley said.
Thursday's fire broke out about 9:30 p.m. at 607 South Street, two houses east of a home where a fire started just four hours earlier and burned several junk cars, fences and an outbuilding.
The two men living in the home, a father and adult son, were able to escape the fire, Fraley said.
When the latests fire started, firefighters were out of position because many of them were on the scene of a grass fire on the east side of 25 Hill.
Fraley said the ladder truck from Station 21 in Taft was the only engine on the scene of the house fire for 10 to 15 minutes.
An engine and patrol from Taft, an engine and patrol from Fellows and a patrol from McKittrick were on the grass fire on 25 Hill and there response was delayed.
There was little firefighters could do, however.
The 900 square foot home was already well involved in flames when truck 21 arrived.
The service drop to the house was in the front and had burned away, leaving energized power lines arcing and hanging over a wrought-iron fence.
That kept firemen from attacking the fire directly. They concentrated their efforts on protecting homes to the east and west of the burning house.
The heat was so intense at times that firefighters hosed down the sides of their fire trucks to cool them down.
The fire went to two alarms and engines from McKittrick, Buttonwillow and Old River were sent to the scene.
The fire was finally under control 68 minutes after it was reported.
The cause is suspicious and an arson investigator was sent to the scene.
Damage is estimated at $80,000 but firefighters list the save to the adjacent homes at $140,000.
Anyone who witnessed the fire or who has any information regarding this incident is asked to call 1-877-FIRE-TIP (347-3847).
Information may be submitted anonymously.