McKinney Fire west of Yreka explodes in size, sends smoke over the region
By Bert Etling, Ashland.news
Possible lightning storms Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon through Monday morning has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning for large areas of Southern Oregon and Northern California, even as a fire first reported Friday afternoon near the Klamath River northwest of Yreka exploded overnight to an area of more than 18,000 acres, sending a plume of smoke over the region. Early Saturday afternoon, the Klamath National Forest raised the estimated area of the fire to 30,000 to 40,000 acres.
The McKinney Fire started approximately 6 miles west of Yreka and 6 miles south of the state line, about 22 miles southwest of Ashland. While the fire is not threatening Oregon communities at this time, the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest (RRSNF) is pre-planning fire suppression efforts that may be needed if the fire directly threatens Oregon residents and is working closely with the Klamath National Forest on this fire and any new starts they may have.
RRSNF said it continues to prepare for “abundant” lightning and continuing hot, dry weather, and has ordered additional resources that will be pre-positioned in strategic locations for immediate response throughout the five Ranger Districts.
Forecasters say thunderstorms may produce occasional to abundant deadly cloud-to-ground lightning, gusty and erratic winds, and small hail.
The city of Ashland encourages residents to:
- Sign up for emergency alerts on the city Nixle page.
- Make an evacuation plan and have a “go kit” ready.
- Know your evacuation zone and all routes in and out.
- Make sure your home is fire ready.
Ashland Fire & Rescue is staffing up its capacity along with Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon and the RRSNF to respond to any fires in the area.
During a Red Flag Warning, everyone needs to exercise extreme caution related to preventing fires, authorities advise, including: If you’re towing a trailer, be sure the chains are secured and not dragging as sparks can cause an unwanted fire. If you are enjoying the outdoors, know and follow the prevention measures where you are related to campfires, smoking and any other activity that could start a fire. If you are working in an area of dry grass or brush, make sure that your equipment is well maintained and won’t create a spark or start a fire.
Meanwhile the National Weather Service’s excessive heat warning, originally set to expire at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 30, has been extended to 11 p.m. Sunday, July 31.
The forecast high for Ashland is 99 Saturday and Sunday, with lows at 70 and 66 respectively. Forecast highs drop to 91 and 85 Monday and Tuesday, with lows at 58 and 56.
Heat warnings are issued when extreme heat significantly increases the potential for heat related illnesses, particularly for those working or recreating outdoors.
The six-day duration of this heat wave is likely to be a top-five event in the climate record for duration, the weather service said.
Sources: News releases from the National Weather Service, Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and the city of Ashland. Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at email@example.com or call or text him at 541-631-1313.