McKinney Fire in Northern California grows to 50,000 acres

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The McKinney fire in Siskiyou County’s Klamath National Forest had burned 51,468 acres Sunday morning and remained 0% under control, according to Cal Fire.

The wildfire, now California’s largest so far this year, started Friday afternoon in the Klamath National Forest near the California-Oregon border and led to the closure of part of Highway 96, Cal Fire officials said.

The drought in the area has resulted in extremely dry, receptive fuels that contributed to the rapid spread of the wildfire, as well as strong winds and dry lighting, firefighters said.

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On Sunday, the National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for the area due to the threat of dry lightning and strong winds that could cause the fire to spread in any direction and be “extremely dangerous” for firefighters.

As firefighters struggle to contain the blaze, they are also dealing with three additional, smaller fires in the province: the China 2 Fire, the Evans Fire and Kelsey Creek.

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The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said the McKinney and China 2 Fire went live overnight and said their priority on Sunday was life-saving efforts and protecting the property of residents who were being evacuated.

“Crews were actively protecting structures at night, especially in the Klamath River area. Little progression was observed on the edge of the fire closest to Yreka City,” the sheriff said on Facebook.

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On Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Siskiyou County to use more resources to fight the blaze. Newsom confirmed that an unknown number of homes had been destroyed as a result of the bushfire and that 2,000 residents in the county were under evacuation orders.

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