A wildfire near the California border with Oregon exploded overnight from 300 acres to an estimated 18,000 acres, prompting evacuation orders for nearby communities.
The McKinney fire is burning through heavy, drought-stressed timber in steep terrain in the Klamath National Forest, about 10 miles west of Yreka, said Caroline Quintanilla, a public information officer.
“It’s very active fire behavior at this point,” she said.
Evacuation orders have been issued for multiple communities along the Klamath River. The dynamic situation forced firefighters to shift their efforts from controlling the perimeter of the fire to assisting with evacuations and defending structures, Quintanilla said.
The fire started Friday afternoon on the south side of the Klamath River amid triple-digit heat. It was fanned by erratic winds from thunderstorms that moved through the area overnight, Quintanilla said.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation.
The National Weather Service has issued a red-flag warning for the area that’s in effect through Saturday, saying that scattered thunderstorms could result in abundant lightning striking critically dry vegetation.