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 McKinney Fire is now the biggest wildfire in California this year. Currently burning near the state line with Oregon, it’s grown to 82 square miles in size after starting on Friday in the Klamath National Forest due to an unknown cause, according to California fire officials. The fire has already claimed the lives of two.
Two bodies were discovered inside a charred vehicle in the wildfire zone of the Mckinney Fire on Sunday, ABC 7 News reports. The vehicle and the bodies were found in the driveway of a residence near the remote community of Klamath River, according to a statement from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) August 1, 2022
The McKinney Fire isn’t the only fire in the region, though; a second, smaller fire was sparked by dry lightning on Friday, threatening the community of Seiad. Between the two ongoing fires, 400 structures were threatened, according to local authorities. Then on Sunday, a third fire on the southwest end of the McKinney fire prompted evacuation orders for around 500 homes Sunday, according to Courtney Kreider, a spokesperson with the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.
Mt. Ashland Ski Area in Oregon is near the McKinney Fire and is staying on high alert. The ski area shared on its Facebook page:
“Keeping an eye on the #mckinneyfire The fire has grown to more than 51,000 acres with most of the spread moving away from Mt. Ashland. Things look OK for now but we remain on alert and will continue to prepare for the worst just in case. Stay safe firefighters!”
The extent of the damages in the areas burned by the fires is still unknown and assessments can’t begin until the area is safe to enter, local officials say. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday to allow him more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and receive federal aid.