Erskine Fire survivors react to learning cause of destructive blaze

FILE -- Sue Kaufman's South Lake, Calif., property lies in ruin Wednesday, July 20, 2016, from the Erskine Fire, which ripped through the Kern River Valley starting June 23. (KBAK/KBFX photo)

After it was announced Thursday that the Erskine Fire was caused by a worn electrical line, survivors of the destructive fire said they just want to move forward.

Kern County Fire Department investigated the fire for six months.

The Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall said on Thursday that the privately operated electrical line was worn down over time and created a spark in the brush, and that started the fire.

RELATED STORY | Worn electric line in tree caused deadly, destructive Erskine Fire

Fire officials said the line was strung between two buildings.

Kern River Archers currently uses the property where the fire was started.

They sublease it from California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the land is ultimately owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

Both the Kern River Archers and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management sent Eyewitness News statements that said their hearts go out to the families affected by the Erskine Fire and they send their condolences.

"It's too late and it's such a convoluted mess that they'll never figure it out whole ultimately responsible," South Lake resident, Robert Healy, said.

The Bureau of Land Management is now taking over the investigation from the fire department.

There are still questions about if the line was up to code, was it permitted, and will there be any criminal charges filed.

The Bureau of Land Management said those answers will start to come in a few weeks to a month, after they review the investigation done by the Kern County Fire Department.

"I'll take their assessment of it because they're all experts," John Welcher Senior, an Erskine survivor, said.

Survivors like Welcher said they didn't really care to know the cause because the damage is done.

"You can't change anything," Welcher said. "That won't bring one thing back."

He lost two homes in the fire. Welcher said he almost lost his life, but was lucky that he and his family made it out of their home alive.

"You couldn't see anything from the smoke, you couldn't see 20 feet in front of you," he said.

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