Fast-moving McKinney fire in California state goes from charring just over one square kilometre to scorching as much as 160 square kilometres in a largely rural area near the Oregon state line, say fire officials.
Wildfires in the US states of California and Montana have exploded in size overnight amid windy, hot conditions and were quickly encroaching on neighbourhoods, forcing evacuation orders for over 100 homes, while a blaze in Idaho state was spreading.
In California's Klamath National Forest, the fast-moving McKinney fire, which started on Friday, went from charring just over 1 square kilometre to scorching as much as 160 square kilometres by Saturday in a largely rural area near the Oregon state line, according to fire officials.
"It’s continuing to grow with erratic winds and thunderstorms in the area and we’re in triple digit temperatures," said Caroline Quintanilla, a spokesperson at Klamath National Forest.
Meanwhile in Montana, the Elmo wildfire nearly tripled in size to more than 28 square kilometres within a few miles of the town of Elmo.
Roughly 320 kilometres to the south, Idaho residents remained under evacuation orders as the Moose Fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest charred more than 174.8 square kilometres in timbered land near the town of Salmon. It was 17 percent contained.
A significant build-up of vegetation was fueling the McKinney fire, said Tom Stokesberry, a spokesperson with the US Forest Service for the region.
US House bill
McKinney's explosive growth forced crews to shift from trying to control the perimetre of the blaze to trying to protect homes and critical infrastructure like water tanks and power lines, and assist in evacuations in California’s northernmost county of Siskiyou.
Deputies and law enforcement were knocking on doors in the county seat of Yreka and the town of Fort Jones to urge residents to get out and safely evacuate their livestock onto trailers. Automated calls were being sent to land phone lines as well because there were areas without cell phone service.
Over 100 homes were ordered evacuated and authorities were warning people to be on high alert. Smoke from the fire caused the closure of portions of Highway 96.
The Pacific Coast Trail Association urged hikers to get to the nearest town while the US Forest Service closed a 177-kilometre section of the trail from the Etna Summit to the Mt. Ashland Campground in southern Oregon.
As fires raged across the West, the US House on Friday approved wide-ranging legislation aimed at helping communities in the region cope with increasingly severe wildfires and drought — fueled by climate change — that have caused billions of dollars in damage to homes and businesses in recent years.
The legislative measure approved by federal lawmakers combines 49 separate bills and would increase firefighter pay and benefits; boost resiliency and mitigation projects for communities affected by climate crisis; protect watersheds; and make it easier for wildfire victims to get federal assistance.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has sponsored a similar measure.