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McKinney Fire advances another 1,149 acres

Firefighters from Lincoln National Forest in New Mexico are among the firefighters from around the West battling the McKinney Fire in Northern California. [InciWeb photo]
Hot, dry weather could push fire’s growth

The McKinney Fire near Yreka in Northern California grew by more than 1,000 acres from Wednesday to Thursday, but rain and firefighter efforts so far have kept the blaze from growing into a fast-moving megafire of more than 100,000 acres.

The fire advanced 1,149 acres to reach 58,668 acres as of Thursday morning. It was 10% contained, fire officials reported.

First reported July 29, the fire ballooned by tens of thousands of acres before settling in the 50,000-acre range Sunday.

But fire officials predict more active fire behavior and challenging conditions as the weather changes over the next several days.

After thunderstorms dropped 1-3 inches of rain on portions of the fire Tuesday, the National Weather Service forecasts mostly sunny weather for nearly a week, except for partly cloudy weather Friday night. High temperatures will be in the 90s.

Heavy rain earlier this week fell on the eastern portion of the fire, with the western half not receiving measurable precipitation. Fire has been most active on the western side. As the eastern side dries, fire activity will pick up again there, fire officials said.

Helicopters and air tankers were used to support firefighters on the ground as they fought to limit the spread of the fire on western flanks. Aircraft dropped over 50,000 gallons of retardant, fire officials said.

Progress in fire line construction has been slow but steady along the fire’s edges. Difficult terrain and heavy fuels have been a challenge. However, bulldozer lines have been completed in multiple areas surrounding the fire. The fire is holding along the Klamath River’s edge east of Horse Creek along Highway 96, fire officials said Thursday morning.

More than 100 buildings from sheds to houses have burned, and at least four people have died.

Multiple evacuation orders and warnings remain in effect. For current updates on evacuations, see www.facebook.com/SiskiyouCountySheriff or www.facebook.com/SiskiyouCountyOES.

A shelter has been established at the Weed Community Center, 161 E. Lincoln Ave., in Weed, Calif. Highway 96 remains closed through the fire area.

A U.S. Forest Service closure order is in effect through at least Aug. 30 for a 110-mile segment of the Pacific Crest Trail from Etna Summit to Mount Ashland.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.