McKinney Fire near California-Oregon border explodes

McKinney Fire Updates: Get information about the McKinney Fire from the US Forest Service.
Information line: 530-643-0279
Evacuations: Get the latest information from the Siskiyou Sheriff’s Office and ZoneHaven.
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UPDATE July 30, 7:49 p.m. The McKinney Fire burning near the California-Oregon border in Siskiyou County has blacked out 30,000 acres and is only 1% contained, according to Cal Fire’s latest update Saturday night .


A Northern California fire broke out northwest of Yreka in the Klamath National Forest, about 15 miles south of the Oregon border, sending up a massive pyrocumulus cloud and triggering a wave of evacuations in small forest communities in the northernmost part of the Golden State.

The McKinney Fire was reported at 300 acres Friday night without containment and exploded overnight, reaching 18,000 acres Saturday morning, the US Forest Service said.

“The McKinney Fire increased significantly as winds from late evening thunderstorms kept the fire active through the night,” the Forest Service said. “Runs on the north and south sides of the fire occurred.”

“Another day of very active fire behavior is forecast with very hot temperatures in the forecast,” the agency said.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the fire escalated. The proclamation gives Newsom more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and access federal assistance.

It also allows “firefighting resources from other states to assist California crews with firefighting,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Infrared video, taken by an aircraft flying over the McKinney Fire at 12:29 p.m. by the State Emergency Services Office for its Integrated Real-Time Fire Intelligence System, was posted on Twitter and showed the former had reached 29,677 acres.

The fire was burning wildly Saturday afternoon and evacuations extended to just west of Yreka.

“Due to the erratic winds, the fire is spreading everywhere,” Caroline Quintanilla, public information officer with the US Forest Service, told SFGATE at 1 p.m.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office issued evacuation orders Friday and earlier Saturday before sunrise; you can get the latest information on the evacuation on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. You can find your bug out zone on ZoneHaven.

The fire started at 2:38 p.m. in the Oak Knoll Ranger District, west of the Walker Creek Bridge on the south side of the Klamath River, the US Forest Service said.

Thunderstorms passed over the area on Friday evening and may have exacerbated the fire.

“It seems like the fire definitely came first, before the thunderstorms,” ​​Schaaf said. “It seems that there was a gust of wind from the fire which helped the development of the storm. The first lightning strikes occurred after 7 p.m.”

More lightning is expected on Saturday, putting a red flag warning into effect due to extreme weather conditions.

Schaaf said the fire extinguished a 39,000-foot-tall pyrocumulus cloud at 11:30 p.m. “It’s unusual for a fire to extinguish a fire cloud of this size late at night, as fires usually stabilize after sunset,” he said.

Pyrocumulus clouds, also known as fire clouds, form when air heats up and moves upward, pushing smoke, ash, and steam with it. They are a sign that ground fire activity is increasing.

Bruno Rodriguez, NWS meteorologist job on Twitter: “Pretty monstrous fire behavior around midnight on the #McKinneyFire.”

Rodriguez added that it was even some pyrocumulonimbus cloud activity, with the fire cloud producing its own lightning – “pretty much the last thing Klamath needs,” he wrote.

Several roads were closed due to the fire, including Highway 96, Scott River Road, Highway 96 and Highway 263, Siskiyou Emergency Services Office said.

Two other smaller fires were reported near the McKinney Fire, China Peak Fire and Evans Peak Fire. Klamath National Forest said at 11 a.m. Saturday that the China Fire had combined with the Evans Fire and was approximately 300 to 350 acres and 2 to 3 miles west of the town of Seiad Valley.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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