McKinney Fire Burns 51,000 Acres in California

A fast-growing wildfire fueled by strong winds from thunderstorms and high temperatures in Northern California has grown to more than 51,000 acres in two days, becoming the state’s largest wildfire to date of the year. and forced to evacuate in rural areas.

The blaze, dubbed the McKinney fire, started burning through dry wood Friday in the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County, California, near the Oregon state line, authorities said.

Officials did not report any injuries or deaths related to the fire Sunday morning. Governor Gavin Newsom of California declare state of emergency for Siskiyou district on Saturday, saying that nearly 2,000 people were ordered to evacuate immediately. Courtney Kreider, a spokesman for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, said an additional 1,000 people have since been ordered to evacuate.

As of Sunday morning, the fire had not yet moved near the city of Yreka, where population about 7,800. But it destroyed more than 100 structures – including homes, grocery stores and community centers – in the surrounding area, Ms.

Joel Brumm, a spokesman for Klamath National Forest, said a fuller assessment of the damage was still pending. “We know that some structures have been lost but we don’t know the amount or severity of the damage,” he said.

The heat from the flames created a huge cloud called pyrocumulonimbuscalled “Fire-breathing dragon in the cloud“Basically creates its own weather and reaches more than 39,000 feet into the sky, according to the National Weather Service in Medford, Ore.

Brad Schaaf, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Medford, said by phone on Sunday: “The fires create thunderstorms, which could cause new fires nearby.

The fire, which is 0% controlled as of Sunday morning, is one of more than 50 large and fire complex has burned across parts of the United States so far this year, according to National Interagency Fire Center. In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in California, Oak fire burned more than 19,000 acres and threatened thousands of homes and businesses. That fire is about 64 percent contained on Sunday.

The McKinney Fire comes at a precarious time for the state, which, along with the Pacific Northwest, is facing abnormally high temperature this week as a heatwave blankets the region.

The days of scorching heat and dry conditions contributed to the intensity of the fires by making vegetation drier and more flammable. Analyzes have shown that human-caused climate change increased the likelihood of such extreme heat waves.

On Saturday, firefighters shifted their focus from fighting the perimeter of the fire to helping people evacuate and protecting structures. according to the United States Forest Service.

Videos and photos of the fire show bands of smoke rising from trees as the blaze blankets Klamath National Forest with an orange glow. Cars flee on almost empty roads, and officers with Redding . Police Department helped residents evacuate as they watched the burning forest in the distance.

State Office of Emergency Services “Watch for People in the Northernmost State” say on Twitter on Saturday. “#McKinneyFire is moving fast and strong due to weather conditions.”

Three other fires in the county – the China 2, Evans and Kelsey Creek fires – have merged and burned about 115 acres, Kreider said. The Kelsey Creek Fire was caused by a flash of lightning during the night, she added.

Officials and meteorologists were worried Sunday about possible thunderstorms through Tuesday night. Mr Schaaf said such thunderstorms could create more fires in the area if light were to shine in.

However, the smoke from the McKinney fires can lower temperatures and “counter some of those thunderstorm components,” he added.

However, Klamath National Forest said in a statement on Sunday that “these conditions can be extremely dangerous for firefighters” as erratic winds propel fires in random directions.

“It presents a challenging and complex forecast,” Mr. Schaaf said.

Vimal Patel contributed to this report.

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