Storms, mudslides hamper battle against McKinney wildfire

Hurricanes and landslides hampered firefighters’ battle this week against the deadly McKinney Fire in Klamath National Forest on the California-Oregon border, authorities said.

Three inches of rain on the fire’s eastern flank triggered landslides and devastated firefighters struggling to stop the steady advance of the blaze that has killed four people. Officials said the fire had grown to 58,668 acres as of Thursday morning, with a 10 percent containment capacity.

“When the water goes down so quickly, it just doesn’t seep in, it just comes out and it really causes some problems,” said Dennis Burns, fire behavior analyst for the US Forest Service. “We had a lot of mudslides, some roads washed away, some vehicles got stuck, things like that, but it had very little effect on the fire.”

One video circulating on Twitter Wednesday showed a pickup truck and at least three pickups stopped on a road as a murky river trickled down steep terrain.

A man climbs into his truck through the window as water seeps under the door.

“It’s going to get worse!” a firefighter could hear screams.

The heat and smoke from the massive fire pushed the smoke higher than the jet’s altitude, helping to create four separate thunderstorms – an extremely rare occurrence but scientists warn will happen. occur more frequently due to climate change and the dangerous frequency and intensity of wildfires.

However, Wednesday’s cooler temperatures provided relief to the more than 1,300 firefighters on the ground who battled triple-digit temperatures earlier in the week.

Firefighters were unable to widen the perimeter of the fire lines around the fire. Instead, firefighters focused on building railroads around Yreka, the county seat just east of the fire, to protect buildings there.

Crews also worked to build lines near Baldy Gap and Humbug Creek on the southern edge of the fire. Before dark, firefighters were able to send oil tankers through the area and fortify fire lines with flame retardants, hoping to block the path of the flames.

“The hope is that we will try to get the fire back on the bulldozer lines that we have in place,” Burns said.

But as temperatures rose on Thursday and humidity dropped to single digits, Burns said it also expects the blaze to “respond in kind.”

Fire officials are monitoring the northern end of the blaze, where they fear the alignment of winds and the area’s slope could push the fire forward. Still, Burns said firefighters were confident they could keep the blaze under control, with the help of tankers.

“We’re going to reinforce that with a bit of retardation today,” he said.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-08-04/rain-brought-no-help-to-firefighters-battling-the-mckinney-fire Storms, mudslides hamper battle against McKinney wildfire

Edmund DeMarche

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