Two people have been killed in a California wildfire which erupted this weekend into the state’s largest of the year so far.
The McKinney Fire, which started on Friday, has grown to 82 square miles (212 sq km) and is 0 per cent contained, according to the state fire agency Cal Fire.
The fire is burning in the Klamath National Forest, near the Oregon border. So far, 2,000 residents and hikers on the Pacific Crest trail have been evacuated. At least 12 homes have burned down.
Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said that two people were found dead inside a burnt-out vehicle after the fire tore through a residential neighbourhood.
The bodies were discovered on Sunday morning west of the community of Klamath River, California. The sheriff’s office said they were in the process of identifying the bodies and notifying next-of-kin.
NEW: @NOAA's #GOES17🛰️ was watching as California's #McKinneyFire showed explosive growth on Saturday. The #wildfire has become California's largest fire of 2022, scorching more than 50,000 acres as thousands of residents are forced to evacuate. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/RLGxjWu7vG
— NOAA Satellites - Public Affairs (@NOAASatellitePA) August 1, 2022
The sheriff also reported that early on Monday, two people were arrested within the McKinney Fire evacuation zone and booked into the county jail. One suspect was booked for possession of burglary tools and the other for burglary within an evacuation zone.
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency this weekend over the McKinney Fire after soaring, triple-digit heat, and windy conditions exacerbated the flames. A state of emergency allows more leeway when making decisions related to emergency response and accessing federal aid.
Five states reported new large fires over the weekend: California, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas.
Nationally, 55 large fires and complexes have burned more than 1.5 million acres. More than 8,700 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents, the National Interagency Fire Center reported.
In Idaho, the Moose Fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest has burned more than 75 square miles (196 square km) near the town of Salmon, and extreme fire behaviour was also being reported at the Carter Canyon Fire in Nebraska.
The Elmo wildfire in northwestern Montana almost tripled in size to 11 sqm (28 sq km).
Dry and windy conditions will continue through Monday in Washington, Oregon and Montana with well-above normal temperatures across much of the Northwest, northern Rockies, and portions of northern California and northern Great Basin
Isolated thunderstorms are forecast on Tuesday in parts of the Northern California, Northwest, Great Basin and Northern Rockies areas. This increases the threat of lightning strikes, the most common cause of wildfires.
On Friday, the US House of Representatives approved a bill that would help communities in western states with the increasing threat of wildfires and drought linked to the climate crisis. Such incidents have led to billions of dollars in damage in the last few years.
The legislation would boost pay for fire fighters, increase mitigation efforts in affected areas, put in place protective measures for watersheds, and simplify the process for victims to receive federal aid.