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McKinney Fire unlikely to threaten Ashland, says wildfire chief

Seen in a long exposure photograph, lightning flashes over Siskiyou County, Calif., Sunday. Lightning strikes sparked new wildfires for crews battling the McKinney Fire nearby. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Smoke and ash from the McKinney Fire burning across the border in Northern California has many in Ashland, Talent and Phoenix worried, but Ashland Wildfire Division Chief Chris Chambers urges people to keep calm and stay fire-wise.

“We monitor these situations closely, and if the public needs to know about an evacuation, we will tell them,” Chambers said.

He said he has kept in touch with partners in the U.S. Forest Service on developments of the McKinney Fire, the neighboring China 2 Fire and other blazes burning nearby.

Chambers said he has been advised the fires are not expected to cross the Oregon border.

Chambers said it is rare for fires to start in California and jump the border, and when they do, they usually lose steam shortly afterward. He referenced the Klamathon Fire of 2018 and the Slater Fire of 2020, neither of which got close enough to threaten Ashland or its neighboring cities.

If a fire like McKinney jumped the border and did pose a threat, Chambers said, Ashland would have plenty of advance warning.

“Our evacuation plan encompasses any threat to the city. It would be valid no matter what direction the fire would be coming from,” he said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Morgan Rothborne at mrothborne@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4487. Follow her on Twitter @MRothborne.