Northern California forest fire forces evacuations as heat breaks records

Siskiyou County, California - A fire burning amid record heat and thunderstorms producing dry lightning have forced evacuations in Northern California’s Siskiyou County.

California's McKinney fire had grown to around 300 acres by Friday night, officials said (stock image).
California's McKinney fire had grown to around 300 acres by Friday night, officials said (stock image).  © 123RF/toa55

The McKinney fire started about 1.5 miles west of Walker Creek Bridge, on the south side of the Klamath River, Klamath National Forest officials said in a tweet shortly before 3:00 PM.

By 8:30 PM, it had grown to about 300 acres, forest officials tweeted.

Conditions in the area have been exceptionally hot, and another day of extreme heat was forecast for Saturday, said Dan Weygand, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Medford, Oregon.

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A weather station at Montague-Yreka Airport has registered three straight days of its highest temperatures on record, Weygand said.

Wednesday’s high at the weather station was 110 degrees, he said; highs on Thursday and Friday were 111 degrees.

The previous all-time high of 109 degrees was recorded June 27, 2021, he said, adding that the temperature records date to 1948. Normal highs for the area in late July are around 95 degrees.

Thunderstorms also forecast for the area

Thunderstorms came through the region producing dry lightning, but none of the storms were recorded over the area where the fire is burning, Weygand said.

Officials don’t know whether a lightning strike sparked the blaze.

Additional thunderstorms are forecast for the area over the weekend. Although meteorologists expect some chance of rain, storms at this time of year typically don’t produce enough precipitation to preclude fire starts.

Siskiyou County officials have ordered residents in two zones to evacuate and issued evacuation warnings for three other zones.

Cover photo: 123RF/toa55

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