McKinney fire: Two bodies found in car as California’s largest fire rages, new blaze erupts five miles away

·6-min read

The McKinney fire raging across northern California has now left two dead.

The blaze, which started on Friday, has now reached over 55,000 acres — larger than Washington, DC

Evacuations have been ordered for a large swath of Siskiyou County, including parts of Yreka, the county seat, with a population of 8,000.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency, and the blaze remains completely uncontained.

Five miles to the south, the Meamber Fire erupted on Sunday night and has scorched 40 acres. New large fires are also burning in Oregon, Nebraska and Montana – as continued fires burning Idaho, California, Alaska and elsewhere.

The 2022 wildfire season is turning out especially powerful, with six times the size of Rhode Island burned since 1 January.

Wildfires are expected to grow worse in the coming decades as the climate crisis makes conditions in many parts of the planet hotter and drier — two crucial elements for intense blazes.

The western US is currently experiencing a decades-long “megadrought” fuelled by the climate crisis that has dried out vegetation and created near-ideal conditions for fire growth.

Key Points

  • Evacuations ordered for part of Yreka, largest city in Siskiyou County

  • Two found dead in a charred vehicle

  • Large fires also burning in Montana, Idaho and elsewhere in US West

McKinney fire grows to nearly 80 square miles

14:37 , Ethan Freedman

Northern California’s McKinney fire has reached nearly 80 square miles and is completely uncontained after exploding in size over the weekend

Two people killed

14:48 , Ethan Freedman

Two people have died in a vehicle as the McKinney Fire blazed through northern California, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s office

The car was on a residential driveway near the community of Klamath River

14:56 , Ethan Freedman

As of Sunday night, the McKinney Fire had reached over 50,000 acres – nearly 80 square miles, larger than Washington, DC

Another new fire in Montana, the Elmo Fire, had reached over 10,000 acres

The Moose Fire in Idaho, which started a couple weeks ago, has reached nearly 50,000 acres and remains just 23 per cent contained

15:00 , Ethan Freedman

Two people have been arrested within the evacuation zone for the McKinney Fire, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff, both charged with burglary-related offenses

15:09 , Ethan Freedman

The western edge of Yreka, the largest city in Siskiyou County, is currently under mandatory evacuation orders – with more of the city under an evacuation warning

15:16 , Ethan Freedman

The Elmo Fire in Montana has expanded to nearly 13,000 acres – 20 square miles – overnight, with “critical fire weather” expected today

15:23 , Ethan Freedman

A kitten who survived the McKinney Fire hides among rocks in the Klamath National Forest (AFP via Getty Images)
A kitten who survived the McKinney Fire hides among rocks in the Klamath National Forest (AFP via Getty Images)

15:41 , Ethan Freedman

The McKinney fire is sending a huge plume of smoke over northern California and Oregon

The McKinney Fire (located in the red circle) is sending tons of smoke out into Oregon (AirNow.gov)
The McKinney Fire (located in the red circle) is sending tons of smoke out into Oregon (AirNow.gov)

15:55 , Ethan Freedman

Footage from Saturday shows just how quickly the McKinney fire erupted, reaching 18,000 acres overnight. The blaze is now more than 50,000 acres and growing.

McKinney fire reaches 55,000 acres

15:57 , Ethan Freedman

The McKinney Fire has reached 55,000 acres as of Monday morning, officials say, with continued growth expected over the next couple of days

16:06 , Ethan Freedman

The McKinney fire is just the latest climate-related disaster to strike the US.

At the end of the last week, devastating flooding hit parts of eastern Kentucky, killing at least 30 people with more deaths expected.

Intense heat also hit the Pacific Northwest, which normally has mostly cool, seasonable temperatures, leaving at least seven people dead in Oregon.

Wildfires, heatwaves and flash floods are all expected to become more common in many parts of the world as greenhouse gases continue to heat up the planet.

Everywhere is on fire. Here’s why the climate crisis is to blame

16:13 , Ethan Freedman

Everywhere is on fire. Here’s why the climate crisis is to blame

16:26 , Ethan Freedman

The McKinney Fire remains vastly uncontained as it sweeps through the Klamath National Forest in northern California. Since starting, the blaze has jumped over State Route 96 and crept closer to the city of Yreka

16:33 , Ethan Freedman

Firefighters wait under a tree as they battle the McKinney Fire (REUTERS)
Firefighters wait under a tree as they battle the McKinney Fire (REUTERS)

16:39 , Ethan Freedman

Wildfires are pushing smoke around and damaging air quality throughout the Pacific Northwest

17:08 , Ethan Freedman

Three smaller wildfires have broken out south of the McKinney Fire – the Meamber Fire, the Shackleford Fire and the Kelsey Fire. Both the Meamber and Shackleford blazes are around 30-40 acres, while the Kelsey Fire is around 75 acres.

17:22 , Ethan Freedman

A fire in Nebraska caused emergency evacuations and burned over 13,000 acres over the weekend, reports Nebraska Public Radio

Three homes have been destroyed and seven more damaged as the blaze swept through Scotts Bluff County, in the far western end of the state.

Images show fires blazing across fields and burning hay bales

17:31 , Ethan Freedman

Satellite footage shows the intense column of smoking rising up over the McKinney Fire

17:37 , Ethan Freedman

A 60-acre fire has broken out in Oregon in the Willamette National Forest

The fire has closed part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs north to south across the western edge of the US

17:45 , Ethan Freedman

In Texas, the Boldt Fire broke out on Saturday east of San Antonio and burned over 300 acres

Officials say the blaze is now 90 per cent contained

17:51 , Ethan Freedman

The McKinney Fire has quickly become California’s largest blaze of the year. Prior to that, the largest was the Oak Fire, which spread just outside of Yosemite National Park over the past couple of weeks.

The Oak Fire has reached over 19,000 acres, and is 72 per cent contained as of Monday morning

Dozens of hikers evacuated from McKinney Fire

17:53 , Ethan Freedman

Sixty people hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail in northern California as the McKinney blaze grows

According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s office, right across the border in Oregon, officials went to different trailheads to pick up hikers out of the evacuation zone

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