4 people have been killed and more than 100 structures destroyed as the McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County’s Klamath National Forest, northern California, rapidly spread into the state’s largest fire of the season.
The fire started on July 29 and by August 4 it spread to 23 742 ha (58 668 acres) of land. More than 2 200 personnel is battling the blaze which is only 10% contained as of today.1
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said more than 100 homes, sheds and other buildings have been destroyed, including the homes of several deputies who are continuing to work despite personally being under evacuation orders.
Many of the lost structures are along the Klamath River, which runs parallel to Highway 96, according to a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office. The Klamath River Community Hall in Klamath River was also among the structures destroyed, officials said.2
Two people were found dead in their car in a driveway in the town of Klamath River, Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue told ABC News. Firefighters said they suspected that the two were caught in the fast-moving fire as they tried to flee, according to the sheriff.
Two more bodies were found at separate residences on the perimeter of the blaze along Highway 96, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.3
On four separate occasions, the fire sent columns of smoke into the stratosphere – a phenomenon known as a pyrocumulonimbus cloud.
In Siskiyou County, the water in these clouds returned to Earth as rain, accompanied by thunder, wind and lightning, in “a classic example of a wildfire producing its own weather,” said David Peterson, a meteorologist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.4
1 McKinney Fire Incident – Cal Fire – Accessed August 4, 2022
2 2 dead as McKinney Fire explodes to more than 57,000 acres in California – ABC – August 4, 2022
3 Death toll rises to 4 in Northern California’s McKinney Fire – ABC – August 2, 2022
4 McKinney fire has hit the stratosphere, spewing the ‘fire-breathing dragon of clouds’ – Los Angeles Times – August 3, 2022
Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-West, RAMMB/CIRA
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