August 17, 2022
Two dead as firefighters battle McKinney blaze- BPN TODAY

Two dead as firefighters battle McKinney blaze

Two people have been found dead amid a huge wildfire that has forced thousands of people from their homes in northern California.

The bodies of the two dead were found inside a car in the driveway of a property caught in the blaze.

Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue told ABC News the pair seemed to have been trying to escape.

The McKinney Fire has burned more than 55,000 acres, making it California’s largest this year.

The identities of the two dead people are not being released until their families have been notified.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency over the fire, which began on Friday afternoon before rapidly exploding in size due to a combination of dry fuel after a drought, strong winds and lightning strikes.

Around 650 firefighters were battling to contain the fire, officials said, but with little success. Officials said on Monday that it was “0% contained”, but that light rains overnight had prevented the fire from spreading quicker.

As a result, more than 2,000 inhabitants of the area around the Klamath National Forest were told to evacuate.

Map showing the location of the McKinney Fire in northern California.

‘I just saw it explode’

Harlene Althea Schwander, an artist, had only moved into her new home near the fire’s starting point a month ago, and had not yet unpacked everything.

“Three generations of beautiful things, all of my paintings… they’re all gone,” she told Reuters.

“When I saw it coming over from the community centre, and I just saw it explode in the dark. I knew the house was gone,” she said. “The fire department came and told me, ‘just leave now.'”

Despite its vast size, the McKinney Fire is far smaller than last year’s Dixie Fire, which tore though hundreds of thousands of acres and became the second-largest wildfire ever recorded in California.

The Oak Fire, far to the south near Yosemite National Park, is meanwhile still ablaze after more than a week – though it has now been brought under control and is no longer growing.

Climate change increases the risk of the hot, dry weather that is likely to fuel wildfires, scientists say.

An investigation last year by Cap Radio and National Public Radio found that Governor Newsom had slashed $150m from the state’s wildfire prevention budget and grossly overstated the number of acres that had been treated for the kind of fuel breaks and prescribed burns designed to stop such conflagrations.

The McKinney Fire comes as America’s two other West Coast states broke records for the most number of consecutive days of extreme heat.

Oregon officials say they have seen 10 deaths which they believe are tied to the heat wave.

Seattle, Washington, on Sunday recorded its sixth consecutive day of temperatures over 90F.

Very few residents of the normally cool US Pacific Northwest region have air conditioning in their homes.

More Americans die every year from extreme heat than from any other weather-related event.

-BBC

 
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