I offer my deepest sympathy to all of those affected by the Erskine Fire that recently devastated portions of the Kern River Valley. Words alone cannot express the sorrow that I feel for all who lost personal items, homes, or family and friends.
While I grieve with you, I am thankful for the service of volunteers, firefighters, and law enforcement officers, and for the donations that poured in from throughout Kern County and beyond. We will have to draw upon that American spirit of neighbor helping neighbor to begin to heal and rebuild. It‘s that same spirit that residents of the Kern River Valley have relied on before when faced with the hardship of past wildfires, drought, and economic recession. In spite of these challenges the Kern River Valley is resilient, faithful, generous, and kind, and will persevere.
My office is available to anyone requiring assistance with any matters involving state government agencies, and can help guide residents to federal and local agencies or organizations offering resources for individuals and families in need. You can contact my office at (661) 323-0443. Additionally, I have compiled the following resource list of agencies and organizations providing services to those affected by the Erskine Fire.
Kern County Local Assistance Center
On July 1, a Kern County Local Assistance Center (LAC) will open at Woodrow Wallace Middle School, located at 3240 Erskine Creek Road in Lake Isabella. Various county departments and state agencies will have representatives available to help fire victims access resources. The LAC is open Mondays through Fridays, 9 AM - 6 PM, and Saturdays/Sundays, 9 AM - 4 PM, although it will be closed on Monday, July 4 for the holiday. The LAC is tentatively scheduled to remain open through Sunday, July 10 or as long as needed.
Two evacuation shelters are open at:
- St. Jude’s Catholic Church - 86 Nellie Dent Drive, Wofford Heights, CA 93285
- Kernville Elementary School - 13350 Sierra Way, Kernville, CA 93238
Find Loved Ones
If you are looking to connect with a loved one affected by the fire, please visit www.safeandwell.org. You‘ll be able to see if your friends and family have registered as safe and, if you‘re an evacuee, register yourself so that others can find you and know that you‘re okay.
Copies of birth, death, and marriage certificates can be obtained by calling the Kern County Department of Public Health at (661) 321-3000 or by visiting http://www.cdph.ca.gov/
Copies of deeds, deeds of trust, and other recorded documents can be obtained by calling the Kern County Recorder‘s Office at (661) 868-6400 or visiting http://www.recorder.co.kern.
Franchise Tax Board/Claiming Disaster Loss Credits
Taxpayers may claim casualty or disaster credits for losses associated with the Erskine Fire on their state income tax return. They may claim a State disaster loss in the taxable year the disaster occurred or in the taxable year immediately before the disaster occurred. The advantage of claiming a loss in the prior year is that the loss will generally reduce the prior year’s tax liability, generating a refund that Franchise Tax Board can issue quickly. Learn more: https://www.ftb.ca.gov/individuals/disaster.shtml
If you are a victim of the Erskine Fire and have to file for unemployment insurance, the first week waiting period is waived by the Governor‘s Proclamation. You can file by phone, online or by mail. Visit www.edd.ca.gov for more information.
Kern County Department of Human Services
The Department of Health and Human Services Office is open in Lake Isabella. The address is 7050 Lake Isabella Blvd and phone number is (760) 549-2006.
Staff is available to assist constituents with filing for benefits, including Cal Fresh, cash aid, Medi-Cal and other services offered by the Department. Staff from the Bakersfield office will also be available at both shelter locations in Kernville and Wofford Heights. They will assist evacuees with filing for benefits. The applications will then be expedited through the approval process.
Constituents who currently receive Cal Fresh benefits can also call (877) 410-8812 to ask for the “Misfortune Policy.” This policy enables Cal Fresh to replace benefits on the constituent‘s card. For example, if a constituent‘s Cal Fresh benefits are $200 a month and they apply for the Misfortune Policy when there is $10 worth of benefits left on their card, the policy allows Cal Fresh to replace the money already used, so the constituent would be issued $190 on the card to equal what they‘d received at the beginning of the month.
DHS staff will also post fliers at the shelters and other locations in KRV with information on these services.
Department of Motor Vehicles
A local DMV office is open at 5520 Lake Isabella Boulevard or you can reach them at (800) 777-0133. Replacement driver‘s licenses, ID cards, vehicle registration, and vehicle titles are available through the DMV and certain fees will be waived in accordance with the Governor‘s Proclamation.
Cal Water is providing water bottles to victims affected by the fire. Cal Water‘s Customer Center is located at 7138 Lake Isabella Boulevard or you can contact them at (760) 379-5336. Mobile water distribution centers are located at:
- McCray and Hwy 178
- South Lake at Hwy 178 and Entrada Boulevard
- Onyx at Hwy 178 and Easy Street
Below is a list of claim reporting telephone numbers for California‘s major property casualty insurers.
- 21st Century (888) 244-6163
- AAA Claims Reporting/Auto Club of Southern California (Inter-Insurance Exchange) (800) 922-8228
- AAA Claims Reporting/Auto Club of Northern California (Inter-Insurance Exchange) (800) 922-8228
- AIG (877) 802-5246
- Allied (800) 282-1446
- Allstate (800) 54-STORM (547-8676)
- American National Property and Casualty Company (800) 333-2860
- Amica Mutual Insurance Co. (800) 242-6422
- Balboa Insurance Group/Balboa Insurance Company/Newport Insurance Company/Meritplan Insurance Company (888) 768-2096
- California Casualty (800) 800-9410
- Century-National Insurance Co. (800) 733-1980
- Chubb (800) 252-4670
- Civil Service Employees Insurance Company (800) 282-6848
- CNA (877) CNA-ASAP (262-2727)
- Electric Insurance Company (800) 342-5342
- Farmers (800) HelpPoint (435-7764)
- Foremost (800) 527-3907
- Fireman‘s Fund Insurance Company (888) FIRE-HAT (347-3428)
- GeoVera and GeoVera Specialty Insurance Company (800) 319-6632
- IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company (Ameriprise) (800) 274-2924
- Kemper Insurance (888) 252-2799
- Lexington (800) 931-9546
- Liberty Mutual (800) 398-8924
- MetLife Auto & Home (800) 854-6011
- Mercury Claims (800) 503-3724
- National Interstate Insurance (800) 929-0870
- Nationwide/Allied (800) 421-3535
- Oregon Mutual (800) 934-3809
- Pacific Specialty Insurance (800) 962-1172
- Progressive (855) 344-1040
- Safeco (800) 344-1040
- State Farm (800) 782-8332
- USAA (800) 531-8722
- Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company (800) 572-5246
American Red Cross
To make donations, visit redcross.org/donate and select “Your Local Chapter” from the dropdown options. Or:
- Mail a check to American Red Cross - Kern Chapter, PO Box 1226, Bakersfield 93302
- Text “REDCROSS” to 90999 to make a $10 donation
If you wish to make a donation of clothing or household items, the local Red Cross is partnering with Goodwill Industries of South Central California and you can drop off items at any of their donation sites. Goodwill has generously provided vouchers that Red Cross will distribute to residents affected by the fire to select items free of charge.
Additionally, there is a drop-off site for donated goods established at the Elks Lodge located at 6708 Wofford Boulevard, operating in partnership with the Salvation Army.
Again, thank you to the countless firefighters, first responders and other emergency personnel, volunteers and community members for doing all they can for the Kern River Valley during this trying time. The outpouring of love, support, and donations from across the state has been inspiring.
Senator, 16th State Senate District