BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Bakersfield and Kern County fire departments are reporting an increase in structure fires. They say it's common to have vegetation fires during the summer months and more structure fires during the winter months, but local fire crews are seeing an uptick in structure fires a little early this year.
According to Chief Kevin Albertson with the Bakersfield Fire Department, in 2020 between June 1st and August 2nd, the BFD responded to 111 structure fires. So far this year, during that same time frame, the department has responded to 117.
Meanwhile, Public Information Officer Andrew Freeborn with the Kern County Fire Department says between June and July of 2020, the department responded to about 220 structure fires. While the county-wide report for 2021 has not been finalized, the KCFD says they expect about 300 structure fires just between June and July.
"Typically the natural occurring fire only occurs about 15 to 20 percent of the time," said Freeborn. "It's almost always a manmade cause for a fire."
Albertson says the process to investigate a fire’s cause depends on the situation.
"We can have the cause of this fire in three days or 5 days or a year, two years or three years. It just depends on the arson investigators and what they find.”
But one process remains the same.
“Every single one of those calls gets coded as a certain type of call and that helps with our data research to look up and see what is going on with our calls of service."
Freeborn says it's normal for emergency calls to increase each year.
“The community continues to grow. There’s more and more urban sprawl within our communities in Kern County so just that fact alone you are going to expect more call volume. More people plus more activity equals more call volume.”
The KCFD says the department is actively working on ways to reduce fire emergencies and have not identified a trending issue relating to the recent rise in fires.