A wildfire raging in Northern California was exacerbated by winds from thunderstorms on Friday evening, causing significant growth, officials said.
The fire has already burned 30,000-40,000 acres with potentially dangerous storms possible Saturday, according to an update from Klamath National Forest.
“Cumulus clouds are developing in the fire area, which have potential to exacerbate fire behavior,” Klamath National Forest said in a Facebook post Saturday afternoon.
Govt. Gavin Newsom proclaimed a state of emergency Saturday for Siskiyou County, saying the blaze has threatened critical infrastructure and forced nearly 2,000 residents to flee their homes.
The fire, known as the McKinney fire, started on Friday in Siskiyou County near the California-Oregon border, about four hours north of Sacramento. The county has a population of just about 44,000, according to the US Census Bureau.
A mandatory evacuation order was announced for parts of Siskiyou County on Saturday, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. Residents within the evacuation zone are being asked to “please leave immediately.”
A red flag warning, which indicates dangerous fire conditions, is in effect. Lightning is expected in the area, and fire managers were “expecting a very dynamic day [Saturday] on the fire as predicted weather is expected to be problematic for the firefighters,” according to InciWeb’s update.
Firefighters were forced to shift their tactics “from an offensive perimeter control effort” to more of a defensive posture to assist with evacuations Saturday morning, the InciWeb report notes. Estimates on the McKinney Fire’s containment have not yet been made available Saturday afternoon.
Two other fires burning in Siskiyou County – the China 2 and Evans fires – merged and together burned more than 300 acres, prompting evacuation warnings for more than 200 residents, according to the governor’s office.
The state of emergency is meant to unlock state resources and allow firefighters from other states to help crews battling the fires in California, according to the governor’s office.