A wildfire just south of Oregon’s state line exploded to over 50,000 acres on Sunday, becoming California’s largest fire this year just one week after the previous record was broken.
The McKinney Fire erupted Friday in the Klamath National Forest and quickly burned out of control. It remained 0% contained as of Sunday afternoon, according to CalFire – a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency.
“Abundant” lightning, gusty winds, high temperatures and low relative humidity all pose threats to firefighters and could further intensify the fire’s behavior, the U.S. Forest Service said.
“The fuel beds are so dry and they can just erupt from that lightning,” Forest Service spokesperson Adrienne Freeman said. “These thunder cells come with gusty erratic winds that can blow fire in every direction.”
The McKinney Fire was threatening the town of Yreka City, putting about 2,000 residents under evacuation orders. New lightning fires were still being detected in the area, too, according to the forest service.
Larry Castle and his wife, Nancy, left Saturday with some of their prized possessions, including Larry’s motorcycle, and took their dogs to stay with their daughter near Mount Shasta, about 40 miles south on Interstate 5.
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“You look back at the Paradise fire and the Santa Rosa fire and you realize this stuff is very, very serious,” he told the Sacramento Bee.
The blaze quickly surpassed the Oak Fire near Yosemite National Park to become the state’s biggest wildfire this year.
The Oak Fire, which destroyed 182 structures and damaged 10 others, was 64% contained as of Sunday morning, according to CalFire.
The cause of the McKinney Fire remains under investigation.
Contributing: The Associated Press