California’s largest and deadliest wildfire this year has destroyed homes and businesses in the small northern state town of Klamath River.
Most important points:
- The McKinney Fire burned more than 228 square miles and claimed four lives
- The fire destroyed most homes, the trailer park, the post office and the community center in Klamath River
- Scientists say climate change has made wildfires more frequent and devastating
Roger Derry, 80, has lived on the Klamath River for 40 years.
He said the fire was a blow to the city of about 200 people.
“Some of our oldest houses, houses that are 100 years old, are gone,” he said.
“Good people, good people, for the most part, live here and will rebuild over time.
“But it will take a while now.”
The blaze, dubbed the McKinney Fire, has burned more than 228 square miles since it first broke out on Friday.
It keeps getting out of hand.
It is the largest of several wildfires burning in the Klamath National Forest.
The fire destroyed most of the homes on the Klamath River, including those in a trailer park, along with the post office, community center and other scattered businesses.
The cause has not been determined.
When it started, the McKinney Fire was only spread over a few hundred acres and firefighters thought they would have it under control soon.
But then a thunderstorm cell came in with ferocious gusts of wind that pushed him into an unstoppable conflagration within hours.
Derry and his son have decided not to evacuate.
Their home, which they had tried to secure by cutting down nearby bushes, survived.
Firefighters showed up and dug firebreaks nearby, but they could see the fire as it made its way through the places around them.
“When that fire came over that ridge it had flames from 100 feet (30.8 m) for about 5 miles (1.6 km) and the wind was blowing,” Mr Derry said.
“There was nothing to stop it.”
Thousands of people are still under evacuation orders, 100 buildings from houses to greenhouses have burned down and at least four bodies have been found in the region.
The area saw another thunderstorm on Tuesday that poured down heavy rain and swelled rivers.
Fire officials said crews could use bulldozers Tuesday to create firebreaks along a ridge to protect homes and buildings in the provincial capital of Yreka.
Scientists have said that climate change has made the western United States warmer and drier over the past three decades and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.
Wildfires in Montana, Idaho and Nebraska have destroyed some homes and continue to threaten communities.
In northwestern Montana, a fire that started Friday near the town of Elmo set fire to several buildings. However, authorities said they did not immediately know if there were any houses.
Fire officials said the blaze covered 66 square kilometers on Tuesday, with 10 percent containment.
Some residents had to flee Monday as gusts of wind dispelled the fire.
The Moose Fire in Idaho has burned more than 220 square miles in the Salmon-Challis National Forest, endangering homes, mining and fishing near the town of Salmon.
It was capped 23 percent on Tuesday, according to the National Interagency Coordination Center.
A wildfire raging in northwestern Nebraska led to evacuations and destroyed or damaged several homes near the small town of Gering.
The Carter Canyon Fire started Saturday as two separate fires merging.
It was capped by more than 30 percent on Tuesday.