Flames destroy two houses, damage a third in Taft Heights

A major fire broke out in Taft Heights Friday night, destroying an abandoned house and damaging two adjacent homes.

The fires started just after 9 p.m. in the 200 block of Philippine Street and flames and smoke were shooting into the night sky as firefighters arrived.

"It was just a heck of a lot of fire," Kern County Fire Battalion Chief John Savarese said after the flames were knocked down more than an hour later.

Savarese said one building, a long abandoned house, was already engulfed in fire when firefighters pulled up.

Flames were starting to damage an occupied house to the east and spread into a vacant home with a for sale sign in front to the west.

Firefighters were able to prevent major damage to the occupied home, Savarese said, but it did sustain broken windows, burned draperies and smoke damage.

The house to the west suffered more extensive damage and was about 50 percent destroyed.

Four engines and a ladder truck manned by about 20 firefighters responded to the fire.

A damages estimate was not immediately available.

An arson investigator was called in to determine the cause.