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Fire at former farm labor camp

A fire broke out on June 3 at the former farm labor housing complex in Wasco, causing an estimated $100,000 in damages. There were 18 firefighters on the scene to contain the fire.

According to the Kern County Fire Department, firefighters responding to the fire from the Wasco fire station could see significant smoke from a distance. The response was increased to include additional resources from surrounding communities based on the smoke seen from a distance.

Firefighters were delayed by a train while responding to the incident. Once on scene, they encountered a single-story, multi-unit residential building with a fire in the attic.

They began searching for possible victims and extinguishing the fire. No victims were found. There were no reports of injuries on the scene by civilians or firefighters. The cause is undetermined.

Other fires at the complex have happened in the past.

"We investigate all of them, but due to the homeless population there, we often don't have eyewitnesses or not much to go on with the investigations," Kern County Fire Division Chief Joe Appleton said.

He added, "The sheriff's do a good job in helping us clear out the homeless and trespassers that should not be in the old labor camp."

The former complex has become a hot spot for criminal gang members and crime, attracting transients.

"There are several transients that go out there. I keep them out as much as possible. I can't say those are the ones that started the fire," Sergeant Corey Stacy of the Kern County Sheriff's Office Wasco Substation said.

"We patrol the area and contact subjects seen in the area, trying to run them out or making arrests whenever we can if we can prove they committed a crime or have warrants."


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