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California Wildfire Burns Through $4 Million in Two Days

A wildfire near Bakersfield, California, fed by heavy winds and dry conditions, had burned through 2,600 acres Monday, and more than $4 million has been spent fighting the flames since they sparked last week.

The fire, which started Friday, prompted officials to order residents of 500 homes near Sequoia National Forest to evacuate, according to the Kern County Sheriff's office. The number of evacuated buildings had not changed since first implemented Friday, but 1,000 buildings were threatened by the fire, said Tom Efird, a battalion chief with the Garden Valley Fire Protection District.

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Firefighters made "tremendous progress" laying down fire lines and containing the fire overnight, but those efforts could be undone by winds that were predicted to exceed 20 mph on Monday, Efird said. The fire was 10 percent contained on Monday morning.

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The humidity also remained dangerously low on Monday, and the fire was being fueled by parched timber and grass, according to fire officials.

Still, "with everyday we’re getting increased confidence," Efird said, pointing out that the wildfire was the only large fire in California, allowing for crews to focus a huge amount of resources on fighting the flames from the air and the ground.

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More than 1,000 firefighters were devoted to containing the fire, and "we've had a tremendous amount of air assets that have helped us hold this fire in check," Efird said.

Two houses were lost in the blaze and one was damaged, but “we don’t see that number going up,” Efird said.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

— Elisha Fieldstadt