2 bodies found in burned vehicle in California wildfire area

YREKA, Calif. (AP) — Two bodies were found in a charred vehicle in a driveway in the wildfire area of ​​a raging California fire Monday among several looming thousands of homes in the western U.S., officials said. Hot and windy weather and thunderstorms threatened to increase the danger of the fires continuing to grow,

The McKinney Fire in Northern California near the state line with Oregon exploded in size to nearly 87 square miles (225 square km) after an eruption Friday in the Klamath National Forest, firefighters said. It is the largest wildfire of the year in California so far, and officials have not yet determined the cause.

The vehicle and bodies were found Sunday morning in the driveway of a residence near the remote Klamath River community, the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

Nearly 5,000 homes and other buildings in Northern California were threatened and an unknown number of buildings burned down, said Adrienne Freeman, a spokesman for the US Forest Service.

The smoky glow cast an eerie orange-brown hue in a neighborhood that had a brick chimney surrounded by rubble and scorched vehicles on Sunday. Flames set fire to trees along State Route 96 and swept through hills within sight of homes.

Valerie Linfoot’s son, a firefighter, called to tell her that their three-decade family home in Klamath River had burned down. Linfoot said her husband worked for years as a US Forest Service firefighter and the family did everything they could to prepare their home for a wildfire — including installing a metal roof and trimming trees and tall grass around it. the terrain.

“It was as safe as we could make it, and it was just so dry and so hot and the fire went so fast,” Linfoot told the Bay Area Newsgroup. She said her neighbors have also lost houses.

“It’s a beautiful place. And from what I’ve seen, it’s just been decimated. It’s absolutely destroyed,” she told the newsgroup.

Fire crews on the ground tried to stop the fire from getting closer to the town of Yreka, which has a population of about 7,500. The fire was about 4 miles away on Monday.

A second, smaller fire in the region, sparked by dry lightning on Saturday, threatened the small California community of Seiad.

Freeman said “Significant damage and loss has been sustained along the Highway 96 corridor” which runs parallel to the Klamath River and is one of the few roads in and out of the region.

She added: “But how much damage is still being assessed.”

On Monday, erratic storms were expected to sweep through Northern California again with lightning threatening to spark new fires in bone-dry vegetation, forecasters said. A day earlier, thunderstorms caused flash flooding in Southern California that damaged roads in Death Valley National Park.

In northwestern Montana, a fire at the Flathead Indian Reservation that started Friday in grasslands near the town of Elmo and moved to wooded areas by Monday was up to 32 square miles (52 square kilometers), fire officials said. Residents of about twenty houses had to be evacuated.

In Idaho, the moose fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest burned down more than 196 square miles of forested land near the city of Salmon and was under 21% control by Sunday.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday, giving him more flexibility to make decisions about emergency measures and recovery efforts and to tap federal aid.

Scientists have said that over the past three decades, climate change has made the West warmer and drier, and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

The US Forest Service has closed off a 177 km stretch of the famed Pacific Crest Trail in Northern California and Southern Oregon, urging dozens of hikers in that area to stop trekking and head to the nearest towns.

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Weber reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press reporter Amy Hanson contributed to this report from Helena, Montana.

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