August 10, 2022
Western flames spread, California sees its biggest ever 2022 fire

YREKA, Calif. (AP) — Crews battling California’s biggest wildfire ever this year battled thunderstorms and warm, windy conditions, creating the potential for additional fires on Sunday as they searched remote communities. sought to protect.

US Forest Service spokesman Adrienne Freeman said the McKinney Fire was spiraling out of control in northern California’s Klamath National Forest, with expected thunderstorms being a major concern south of the Oregon state line on Sunday.

“Fuel beds are very dry and they can explode with just that lightning,” Freeman said. “These thunder cells come with strong erratic winds that can fire in every direction.”

The size of the fire exceeded 80 square miles (207 sq km) two days after it exploded in a largely populated area of ​​Siskiyou County, according to a Sunday incident report. The cause was being investigated.

The fire burned trees along California Highway 96, and the charred remains of a pickup truck sat in an alleyway along the highway. Thick smoke covered the area and flames lit up from the hills in view of the houses.

An old Coca-Cola refrigerator sits in the ruins of a property in the community of Klamath River that burned down in the McKinney fire on July 31, 2022, in the Klamath National Forest, northwest of Yereka, California.
An old Coca-Cola refrigerator sits in the ruins of a property in the community of Klamath River that burned down in the McKinney fire on July 31, 2022, in the Klamath National Forest, northwest of Yereka, California.

David MCNEW via Getty Images

Freeman said a second, smaller fire in the west that was hit by dry lightning on Saturday threatened the small town of Cead. About 400 structures were at risk from two California fires. Officials are yet to confirm the extent of the damage, saying the assessment will begin when it is safe to reach the area.

Courtney Creder, a spokeswoman for the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, said the third fire, which was at the southwest end of the McKinney blaze, prompted the evacuation of about 500 homes on Sunday. The office said the crew had been on the scene since late Saturday, but the fire “became active on Sunday morning and escaped its line of control.”

Many people in the sheriff’s office have been affected by evacuation orders because of the fire “and they are still showing up to work, with (a) very dedicated crew,” she said. On Friday, a deputy lost his childhood home in a fire, he said.

As McKinney threatened with fire, some residents chose to stay behind while others heeded orders to leave.

Larry Castle and his wife, Nancy, were among the approximately 2,000 residents of the Yereka area under evacuation orders. They left on Saturday with some of their prized possessions, including Larry’s motorcycle, and took their dogs to live with their daughter near Mount Shasta.

Larry Castle said he was not taking any chances after seeing the explosive growth of major fires in recent years.

“You look at Heaven’s Fire and Santa Rosa’s Fire and you realize this stuff is very, very serious,” he Sacramento Bee. told,

People stand outside their homes as they watch the progress of the forest fire in Mafra on July 31, 2022.
People stand outside their homes as they watch the progress of the forest fire in Mafra on July 31, 2022.

Patricia de Mello Moreira via Getty Images

In northwestern Montana, the fire in the meadows near the town of Elmo had grown to about 17 square miles (44 sq km) after moving into the forest. Crews were working on the edges of the fire on Sunday, and were expected to continue making water and retardant drops from the plane to help slow the pace of the fire, said Sarah Rouse, a spokeswoman for the interagency team assigned to the fire. Told. He said high temperatures and erratic winds are expected.

A section of Highway 28 between Hot Springs and Elmo was closed and drivers were asked to look for fire and emergency personnel. Rouse said visibility was poor in the area.

In Idaho, the Moose Fire in the Salmon-Forty National Forest has burned more than 75 square miles (196 sq km) of woodland near the town of Salmon. By Sunday morning it was 21%. Pela Malolo, Head of Planning Operations Section on Fire said in facebook video Update: Hot, dry conditions were expected to continue on Sunday. Officials said they expected the fire to grow in the steep, rough country on the south side of the fire.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the McKinney Fire intensified. The proclamation allows Newsom more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and access federal aid.

California law enforcement knocked on doors in the towns of Yereka and Fort Jones urging residents to get out and remove their animals safely on trailers. Automated calls were also being sent over land phone lines as were areas without cell phone service.

Scientists say climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past 30 years and will make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

The Pacific Coast Trail Association urged hikers to head to the nearest town, while the U.S. Forest Service closed a 110-mile (177-km) stretch of trail from Etna Summit to Mount Ashland Campground in southern Oregon.

In Hawaii, the Maui County Emergency Management Agency said the brush fire was 90% contained, but a red flag warning was in effect for most of Sunday.

And in North Texas, firefighters continued in their effort to contain the 2-week-old, 10 1/2-square-mile (27 1/3-square-kilometer) Chalk Mountain Fire. The crew now report 83% containment of the fire that has destroyed 16 homes and damaged five others about 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Fort Worth. No injuries have been reported.

Associated Press journalist Becky Bohrer in Juneau, Alaska; Christopher Weber in Los Angeles; Sam Metz in Salt Lake City; and Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.

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