McKinney fire, California’s biggest of year, destroyed at least 132 structures

The McKinney fire that’s killed four people has destroyed 132 structures, including 87 homes as it scorched nearly 60,000 acres in the Klamath National Forest, officials said.

Meanwhile firefighters have slowed down the fire’s pace one week after it was first sparked, but fire officials said Friday flames could still make a run.

Firefighters were keeping an eye on the fire that’s burned near the California-Oregon border, which remains at 10% containment as of Friday afternoon.

But in the last 24 hours, officials with the Klamath National Forest said the fire had burned about 300 acres, a significant slowdown after the fire had burned through 59,636 in the last seven days.

“We did see some growth in the fire,” said Dennis Burns, fire behavior analyst for the U.S. Forest Service during a briefing Friday. “It was all within lines.”

After battling through mudslides and thunderstorms Wednesday, firefighters on Thursday saw warming temperatures and dryer air, prime conditions for fire growth.

“The fire responded in kind,” Burns said.

The more than 2,200 firefighters on hand saw short spotting in the southwest and west corners of the fire, but the fire’s short advance remained in areas that firefighters could keep on check.

“Everything was staying where we wanted it to stay,” Burns said.

Despite being able to build containment lines on only 10% of the fire so far, Burns said officials have been able to build fire lines across most of the blaze, impeding its growth.

On the east side of the fire, he said, there was still a threat that the flames could cut through those lines and advance. On Wednesday, the eastern half saw about 3 inches of rainfall through thunderstorms, but the water had no effect on the flames.

“The fire was responding as if it never rained at all,” he said.

Firefighters on Friday were expecting short thunderstorms, as well warm and dry temperatures.

Despite the possibility of rainfall, Burns noted that the possibility of wind gusts of up to 30 mph feeding the flames remained a concern.

As a precaution, firefighters were building contingency lines with bulldozers in case the fire lines do not hold.

Over the weekend, firefighters will probably continue to extend containment lines in high heat. Temperatures were expected to reach the mid-90s Saturday. On Sunday, temperatures could reach triple digits.

A community meeting is scheduled at the Siskiyou Golden Fairgrounds at 7 p.m. Friday. The event is set to be livestreamed on the U.S. Forest Service — Klamath National Forest Facebook page.

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