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McKinney Fire shows no growth

Siller helicopter 37S dips its snorkel to fill with water for the fight against the McKinney Fire. [Inciweb photo]

For the first time since the McKinney Fire started July 29, fire managers reported no growth on the fire overnight.

The fire, burning about six miles northwest of Yreka and about six miles south of the Oregon border, was listed at 60,379 acres Tuesday, with 55% containment.

“After 11 days of arduous labor, firefighters have ... constructed initial line around the entire 80-mile fire perimeter,” stated a Tuesday update on Inciweb, the federal fire information website. “The next step for our fire personnel is to continue to maintain this line by aggressive and thorough mop-up with the intention to gain depth and keep the fire in its existing footprint.”

In other pieces of good news, fire managers reported the nearby Smokey Fire was 100% contained at 34 acres; the 7,886-acre Yeti Fire, burning west of the McKinney Fire, near the town of Seiad Valley, was listed at 78% containment; and the close-by Alex Fire was 80% contained at 151 acres.

The big news Monday was that crews finally got a line punched in on the troublesome north side of the McKinney Fire, said Dennis Burns, California Interagency Incident Management Team fire behavior analyst, in a Tuesday morning briefing.

The fire is now 100% lined, and crews have mopped up to 300 feet into the interior in some places, he said.

Monday “was kind of our midterm exam,” Burns said, with crews facing red flag conditions and winds up to 25 mph, and they were able to keep the fire within its footprint.

“(Tuesday) is our final exam. We’ve got 30-35 mph gusts. ... If we make it through (Tuesday), we’re going to start seeing some more black on the map,” he said, referring to areas on the perimeter of the fire map that change from red to black when fire lines are considered to be secure.

“(Tuesday) is our last day of red flag warnings,” Burns added. “If we make it through ... I’m starting to feel better that we’re going to keep it, and this fire is going to stay where it belongs.”

Reach Mail Tribune Editor-in-Chief David Smigelski at 541-776-4484 or dsmigelski@rosebudmedia.com.