Vicious California wildfire swells staggering 62 times in size overnight

US News

Wildfires in California and Montana have spiralled overnight, fuelled by hot and windy conditions and threatening neighbourhoods and forcing evacuation orders.

In California’s Klamath National Forest, a largely rural area near the Oregon state line, the fast-moving McKinney fire went from scorching just over one square mile (about 2.5 sq km) on Friday, to tearing across 62 square miles (160 sq km) by Saturday.

The blaze burned down at least a dozen homes, and observers spotted wildlife fleeing the area.

Scorched vehicles and residences line the Oaks Mobile Home Park in the Klamath River community as the McKinney Fire burns in Klamath National Forest, Calif., Saturday, July 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
California’s McKinney Fire scorched vehicles and residences
A horse grazes in a pasture as the McKinney Fire burns in Klamath National Forest, Calif., Saturday, July 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
The McKinney Fire burns in Klamath National Forest

Klamath National Forest spokeswoman Caroline Quintanilla warned the blaze was “continuing to grow with erratic winds and thunderstorms in the area and we’re in triple-digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures.”

With lightning forecasted over the next few days, extra resources from elsewhere in the state are being brought in to help fight the region’s fires, according to the US Forest Service.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the fire escalated, which granted him more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and access federal aid.

It also allows “firefighting resources from other states to assist California crews in battling the fires”, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

More on California Wildfires

Climate breakdown is increasing both the likelihood of and the surface area scorched by wildfires in the US, Europe and Australia, by creating hot and dry conditions.

More than four million hectares that burned in the US between 1984 and 2015 is directly attributable to climate change, according to a peer-reviewed study.

A scorched pickup truck rests on California Highway 96 in Klamath National Forest, Calif., as the McKinney Fire burns nearby, Saturday, July 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
A scorched pickup truck on Highway 96 in California, as the McKinney Fire burns nearby
McKinney Fire burns near Yreka, California, U.S., July 30, 2022. REUTERS/Fred Greaves
The wildfires burn near Yreka in California

Read more:
Staggering images show Europe still on fire

Thousands ordered to flee as officials declare state of emergency due to ‘explosive’ California wildfire

Meanwhile, further northeast in Montana, a wildfire nearly tripled in size to more than 11 square miles (28 sq km) near the town of Elmo and Flathead Lake.

Roughly 200 miles to the south, Idaho residents remained under evacuation orders as the Moose Fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest burned more than 67 square miles (174 sq km) of timbered land near the town of Salmon.

A build-up of vegetation was fuelling the McKinney fire in California, according to Tom Stokesberry, regional spokesman for the US Forest Service.

“It’s a very dangerous fire – the geography there is steep and rugged, and this particular area hasn’t burned in a while,” he said.

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