California wildfires 2022: map of areas affected including McKinney Fire, as two people die

Two people have died in a wildfire in Klamath National Forest, California

Two bodies have been found in a charred vehicle in the wildfire zone of a raging California blaze that is among several burning in the western US amid hot, dry and gusty conditions, officials said.

The McKinney Fire in northern California, near the border with Oregon, exploded in size on Sunday to more than 82 square miles after erupting on Friday (29 July) in Klamath National Forest, firefighting officials said.

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

It is California’s largest wildfire of the year so far and officials have not determined the cause.

It is the latest wildfire in one of the biggest states in the United States.

Where is the fire?

In California’s Klamath National Forest, the fast-moving McKinney fire, which started on Friday 29 July, went from charring just over one square mile (1 sq km) to scorching as much as 62 square miles (160 sq km) by Saturday 30 July in a largely rural area near the Oregon state line, according to fire officials.

The fire burned down at least a dozen homes and wildlife was seen fleeing the area to avoid the flames.

McKinney Fire is in Mariposa County, according to Cal Fire - the official government website.

The blaze has spread over 14,281 acres and is 0 per cent contained as of the latest update.

It erupted on Friday (22 July) south west of the park near the town of Midpines in Mariposa County.

The blaze cast an eerie, orange-brown hue as flames torched trees along State Route 96 and raced through hillsides in sight of homes.

A burned statue lies in the ruins of a home in the community of Klamath River that was destroyed by the McKinney Fire. (Photo by DAVID MCNEW / AFP) (Photo by DAVID MCNEW/AFP via Getty Images)

What has the state of California said?

Klamath National Forest spokeswoman Caroline Quintanilla said: “It’s continuing to grow with erratic winds and thunderstorms in the area and we’re in triple digit temperatures.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the fire intensified. The proclamation allows him more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and access federal aid.

It also allows “firefighting resources from other states to assist California crews in battling the fires”, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Are there any other wildfires in California?

Cal Fire’s website has a tracker of wildfires currently on-going in the state.

McKinney Fire is the biggest fire in California right now, but it is not the only one.

Oak Fire is also continuing, but almost 86 per cent contained.

There are three other wildfires currently in the state - Marmot Fire, Meamber Fire and Shackleford Fire.

Here is a screen shot of the map from Cal Fire’s website:

Map of wildfires in California on 5 August. Picture: Cal Fire

A significant build-up of vegetation was fuelling the McKinney fire, said Tom Stokesberry, regional spokesman for the US Forest Service.

“It’s a very dangerous fire – the geography there is steep and rugged, and this particular area hasn’t burned in a while,” he said.

A small fire was also burning nearby, outside the town of Seiad, he said.

Could the fire get worse?

With lightning predicted over the next few days, resources from all over California are being brought in to help fight the region’s fires, he added.

McKinney’s explosive growth forced crews to shift from trying to control the perimeter of the blaze to trying to protect homes and critical infrastructure like water tanks and power lines, and assist in evacuations in California’s northernmost county of Siskiyou.

Deputies and law enforcement officers were knocking on doors in the county seat of Yreka and the town of Fort Jones to urge residents to get out and safely evacuate their livestock on to trailers. Automated calls were being sent to land phone lines as well because there were areas without mobile phone service.

More than 100 homes were ordered to be evacuated and authorities were warning people to be on high alert. Smoke from the fire caused the closure of portions of Highway 96.