August 13, 2022
California’s largest wildfire wipes out scenic river town

Klamath River, Calif. (AP) — Roger Derry, 80, and his son have been living together for more than 40 years in the beautiful little village of Klamath River in Northern California.

They know most of the city’s 200 or so residents.

Now, they are one of the few families that raged after California’s biggest and deadliest wildfire of the year spread to the modest homes and shops of the riverside town.

“It’s so sad. It’s very depressing,” Derry said. “Some of our old homes, 100-year-old homes, are gone. It’s a small community. Good people, good people, for the most part, here Live and will rebuild over time. But it’s going to take some time.”

The McKinney fire that raged last Friday remained out of control despite some progress, as firefighters took advantage of thunderstorms that temporarily took some heat from the scorched area, not far from the Oregon border.

Another typhoon hit the area on Tuesday, causing heavy rains and flooding rivers.

Scorched vehicles and housing line Oaks Mobile Home Park in the Klamath River community, following the burning of the McKinney Fire in Klamath National Forest.
Scorched vehicles and housing line Oaks Mobile Home Park in the Klamath River community, following the burning of the McKinney Fire in Klamath National Forest.

Noah Berger via The Associated Press

The fire has burned over 88 square miles (228 square kilometers), and is the largest of the many wildfires burning in the Kalamath National Forest.

The fire did not start on Tuesday, and fire officials said crews were able to use bulldozers to create a firebreak along a ridge to protect homes and buildings in the county seat of Yereka.

But several thousand people remained under evacuation orders, 100 buildings ranging from homes to greenhouses burned down and at least four bodies have been found in the area.

The destruction of a small community has sadly become a real possibility as wildfires become rampant in the western United States.

Wildfires in Montana, Idaho and Nebraska have destroyed some homes and continue to threaten communities.

Just four years ago, a massive fire almost completely devastated the Butte County town of Paradise in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills, killing 85 people.

Climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past three decades and will make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive, scientists have said.

When it began, the McKinney Fire was only two hundred acres.  Less than a week later, the fire has burned more than 88 square miles.
When it began, the McKinney Fire was only two hundred acres. Less than a week later, the fire has burned more than 88 square miles.

David MCNEW via Getty Images

When it started, the McKinney fire was only two hundred acres and firefighters thought they would get it under control quickly. But then, came a thunderstorm accompanied by a strong gust of wind, which within hours pushed it into an unstoppable fire.

Roger Derry and his son, Roger Derry, decided not to evacuate when the fire broke out, saying that their home, which they had tried to protect by cutting down bushes nearby, survived. Firefighters also reached the spot and extinguished the fire in the surrounding areas.

But they could see the fire as it spread to the places around them.

“When that fire came on that ridgeline, it had 100 feet of flames and a wind was blowing for about 5 miles. It was coming down like a solid hit,” said Roger Derry. “There was nothing to stop it,”

The fire destroyed most of the homes, including the post office, community hall and other scattered businesses, as well as the trailer park.

The reason has not been determined.

In northwestern Montana, a fire Friday near the town of Elmo on the Flathead Indian Reservation has burned down some structures, but officials said they didn’t immediately know if there were any homes. Fire officials said the fire covered 25 square miles (66 square kilometers) on Tuesday, with 10% under control. Some residents were forced to flee on Monday as strong afternoon winds ignited the fire.

The Moose Fire in Idaho has burned more than 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, while salmon threaten homes, mining operations and fisheries near the town. According to the National Interagency Coordination Centre, it was 23% on Tuesday.

And a wildfire that raged in northwestern Nebraska evacuated and destroyed or damaged many homes near the small town of Gering. The Carter Canyon Fire began as a merger of two separate fires on Saturday. It was contained over 30% as of Tuesday.

Weber reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalist Amy Hanson in Helena, Montana; Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; and Keith Riddler in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.