2 bodies found in burned vehicle in California wildfire area

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A firefighter battling the McKinney Fire protects a cabin on Sunday, July 31, 2022 in Klamath National Forest, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The Associated Press

Yereka, Calif. (AP) – Two bodies were found inside a charred vehicle in a driveway in an area of ​​wildfire that engulfed thousands of homes in the western US on Monday, officials said. Hot and strong weather and lightning storms threaten to fuel the threat that the fires will continue to grow,

Fire officials said the McKinney fire in northern California near the state line with Oregon spread to a size of about 87 square miles after bursting into the Klamath National Forest on Friday. It is the largest wildfire ever in California and officials have not determined the cause.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that the vehicle and body were found on Sunday morning on the way to a residence near the remote community of Klamath River.

US Forest Service spokesman Adrienne Freeman said about 5,000 homes and other structures in northern California were at risk and unidentified buildings burned.

Smoky fires cast a eerie, orange-brown hue in a neighborhood where a brick chimney was engulfed by rubble and scorched vehicles on Sunday. Flames burned trees along State Route 96 and ran through the hills, looking at homes.

Valerie Linfoot’s son, a fire dispatcher, called to tell her that their family’s three-decade home had burned down in the Klamath River. Linfoot said her husband worked as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter for years, and the family did everything they could to prepare their home for wildfire — including installing a metal roof and surrounding the property. Trimming trees and tall grass was involved.

“It was as safe as we could make it, and it was so dry and so hot and the fire was so strong,” Linfoot told the Bay Area newsgroup. She said that her neighbors have also lost the house.

“It’s a beautiful place. And what I’ve seen is just destroyed. It’s completely destroyed,” she told the newsgroup.

Fire crews on the ground were trying to stop the fire from moving closer to the city of Yereka, which has a population of about 7,500. As of Monday the fire was about four miles (6.4 kilometers) away.

A second, minor fire in the area jeopardized the small California community of Cead as it was hit by dry lightning on Saturday.

Freeman said “significant damage and damage has occurred along the Highway 96 corridor” which runs parallel to the Kalamath River and is one of the few roads in and out of the area.

He said: “But the extent of the damage is still being assessed.”

Forecasters said thunderstorms with lightning were expected to hit northern California again on Monday, threatening new fires in bone-dry vegetation. The day before, a flash of thunderstorms damaged roads in Death Valley National Park and the mountains east of Los Angeles.

In northwestern Montana, the Flathead Indian Reservation fire began on Friday in grasslands near the town of Elmo and moved into wooded areas, expanding to 20 square miles (52 sq km) by Monday, fire officials said . Residents of around 20 houses were told to be ready to evacuate.

The Moose Fire in Idaho has burned more than 85 square miles (220 square kilometers) in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, while salmon threaten homes, mining operations and fisheries near the town. It was 23% on Monday.

And a wildfire that spread through northwestern Nebraska evacuated and destroyed or damaged many homes near the small town of Gering. The Carter Canyon Fire began as a merger of two separate fires on Saturday. It was contained about 30% as of early Monday.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday, allowing him more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and tap federal aid.

Climate change has made the West hotter and drier over the past three decades and will make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive, scientists have said.

The US Forest Service closed a 110-mile (177 km) section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail in northern California and southern Oregon, and dozens of hikers in that area were urged to abandon their trek and move to the nearest towns.

Weber reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press journalist Amy Hanson in Helena, Montana; Margery Beck in Omaha, Nebraska; and Keith Riddler in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

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