2 bodies found in burnt-out vehicle in California wildfires
The McKinney Fire in northern California, near the Oregon border, grew to nearly 87 square miles (225 square km) after erupting in the Klamath National Forest on Friday, officials said. fire fighting. It is California’s largest wildfire of the year to date and authorities have not determined the cause.
The vehicle and bodies were found Sunday morning in the driveway of a residence near the isolated community of Klamath River, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
Nearly 5,000 homes and other structures in Northern California were threatened and an unknown number of buildings burned down, said Adrienne Freeman, spokeswoman for the US Forest Service.
The smoky blaze cast an eerie orange-brown hue in a neighborhood where a brick chimney was surrounded by rubble and burned-out vehicles on Sunday. The flames set fire to trees along State Route 96 and cut across hills within sight of homes.
The son of Valerie Linfoot, a fire dispatcher, called her to tell her that their three-decade-old family home in Klamath River had burned down. Linfoot said her husband had worked as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter for years and the family had done everything they could to prepare their home for a wildfire, including installing a metal roof and trimming the trees and tall grass around the property.
“It was as safe as it could be, and it was so dry and so hot and the fire was going so fast,” Linfoot told the Bay Area News Group. She said her neighbors also lost homes.
“It’s a beautiful place. And from what I’ve seen it’s just decimated. It’s absolutely destroyed,” she told the news group.
Fire crews on the ground were trying to keep the blaze from moving closer to the town of Yreka, which has a population of around 7,500. The blaze was about four miles (6.4 kilometers) away on Monday.
A second, smaller fire in the area that was started by dry lightning on Saturday threatened the small California community of Seiad.
Freeman said ‘there was significant damage and loss along the Highway 96 corridor’ which parallels the Klamath River and is one of the few roads in and out of the region.
She added: “But how much damage is still being assessed.”
Erratic thunderstorms were expected to cross northern California again on Monday with lightning threatening to spark new fires in very dry vegetation, forecasters said. A day earlier, thunderstorms caused flash flooding that damaged roads in Death Valley National Park and in the mountains east of Los Angeles.
In northwestern Montana, a fire at the Flathead Indian Reservation that broke out Friday in the prairies near the town of Elmo and moved into wooded areas had grown to 20 square miles (52 km squares) on Monday, fire officials said. Residents of about 20 homes have been told to prepare to evacuate.
The Moose Fire in Idaho has burned more than 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) in the Salmon-Challis National Forest while threatening homes, mining operations and fisheries near the town of Salmon. It was contained at 23% on Monday.
And a raging wildfire in northwest Nebraska prompted evacuations and destroyed or damaged several homes near the small town of Gering. The Carter Canyon Fire started on Saturday as two separate fires that merged. It was about 30% contained early Monday.
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday, giving him more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and to tap into federal aid.
Scientists said climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
The US Forest Service has closed a 177 km section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail in northern California and southern Oregon and dozens of hikers in this region have been asked to abandon their hikes and head for the nearest towns.
Weber reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press reporters Amy Hanson in Helena, Montana; Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; and Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho contributed to this report.