Dangerous winds could hamper fight against massive, lethal McKinney fire

Strong winds anticipated to brush by way of the Shasta Valley might hinder the progress made in latest days by hundreds of firefighters in containing the massive and deadly McKinney wildfire burning on the California-Oregon border.

Since it started within the Klamath National Forest late final month, the blaze has killed 4 folks, destroyed 87 houses and consumed 60,044 acres, however its spread has slowed over the previous few days, with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reporting 30% containment. It is the most important wildfire within the state to date this yr.

Forecasts of wind gusts of as much as 30 mph pose vital new dangers and prompted the National Weather Service in Medford, Ore., to arrange to problem a crimson flag warning for Yreka, Calif., and different elements of the valley alongside Interstate 5 beginning Sunday afternoon.

“When you put a lot of wind on a fire, a lot of bad things can happen,” mentioned Ryan Sandler, one of many meteorologists monitoring the state of affairs. Dangerous wind situations are anticipated by way of at the least Monday.

Map exhibits the realm the place the McKinney hearth is burning close to the California-Oregon border.

CalFire public data officer Aaron Johnson mentioned some 2,700 crew members will proceed digging and sustaining management traces round and thru the hearth, however are getting ready for the potential of extra intense flames and new fires.

“With the high winds, it could potentially throw off spot fires,” mentioned Johnson.

Siskiyou County has seen days of 90- and 100-degree warmth and really low humidity, and the addition of the robust winds brings the danger of the hearth to change into “plume dominated” with huge clouds and erratic habits, Sandler mentioned. The winds might attain as much as 30 mph within the valley and as much as 20 mph within the extra mountainous space the place the hearth is burning.

“Because the atmosphere is so hot, dry and unstable, the fire can in effect create its own weather,” he mentioned.

Some areas of the blaze noticed as much as 3 inches of rain final week, however the intense warmth rapidly dried the bottom and vegetation, and no thunderstorms are anticipated within the subsequent week.

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