The McKinney Fire broke out Friday afternoon in the Klamath National Forest near the California-Oregon border and has since ripped through more than 52,000 acres, advancing on homes and forcing nearly 2,000 residents to evacuate Saturday, authorities said.
At an estimated 52,498 acres, the McKinney Fire has become California’s largest wildfire so far this year, Cal Fire Capt. Chris Bruno told CNN.
Sprinting through dry brush, grass and timber, the fire activity has been extreme, with the flames running uphill, and spotting further out, according to fire officials.
Over 2 million under red flag warnings Monday
The fire risk could intensify Monday.
Dry thunderstorms like those occurring over the weekend happen when rainfall evaporates before ever hitting the ground, leaving only lightning strikes capable of sparking new fires and fueling existing ones, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said.
More than 2 million people are under red flag warnings Monday in parts of northern California, central Oregon, eastern Washington, Montana, eastern Wyoming, western South Dakota and northwestern Nebraska, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said.
And it isn’t the only blaze crews have to contend with. There were 10 different wildfires burning in the Klamath National Forest Sunday afternoon, forest officials said.
“When I got to the community center it was almost on fire. I’m like, “Holy crap, this isn’t good,” Mason said. “So I put the … pedal to the metal and I boogied. … I heard this morning it shot up in flames.”
The fire left a path of destroyed vehicles, scorched structures and haze-filled skies along Highway 96, according to video recorded Saturday by Kirk Eadie, EMS manager for Happy Camp Ambulance.
About 650 firefighting personnel have converged on the blaze, attacking the flames from the ground and the air and working to defend evacuated homes.
CNN’s Holly Yan, Paradise Afshar, Tina Burnside, Amanda Jackson and Claire Colbert contributed to this report.