A child who was living in a storage unit behind a vacant market in east Bakersfield has died in an early morning fire and three other family members were hurt, possibly including other kids.

Firefighters don’t know how the fire on Sterling Road and Monterey Street broke out but it was well underway at 12:40 Wednesday morning when they arrived.

Kern County Code Compliance Supervisor Al Rojas says it has been a popular place for squatters because the main building hasn’t had a tenant for years.

Bakersfield Homeless Center CEO Louis Gill is not surprised at the fire. He says transients will go to any neighborhood with vacant buildings, including wealthier ones in the southwest, as temperatures drop in the winter.

Homelessness dropped 24% in Kern County last year.

Kelli Pierce