A fast-moving blaze in northern California has killed two people and forced thousands to evacuate, as it spread to become the state’s largest wildfire of the year.
The McKinney Fire has already engulfed over 80 square miles since it started Friday in the Klamath National Forest in Siskiyou County.
The two bodies were found Monday in a burnt-out car parked in a residential driveway west of the community of Klamath River. Local authorities have not released the identities of the victims pending notification of their families.
Photos from the scene show utter devastation, with burnt vehicles and animal carcasses littering the landscape.
Heavy smoke in the area complicated efforts to control the blaze with firefighting aircraft Monday.
Rescue crews saved a puppy from the ruins of a building over the weekend, and a photographer with the French agency AFP found a kitten with singed whiskers hiding in the forest.
Fire crews feared expected thunderstorms in the region early this week, which threaten to spread the fire with high winds or ignite yet more of the dry landscape with lightning strikes.
“The fuel beds are so dry and they can just erupt from that lightning,” Adrienne Freeman, a spokesperson for the US Forest Service said. “These thunder cells come with gusty erratic winds that can blow fire in every direction.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency Saturday, as local law enforcement knocked on doors in the towns of Yreka and Fort Jones, urging nearly 3,000 residents to leave and evacuate their livestock.
The cause of the wildfire is still under investigation.
With Post wires
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