Containment Grows on McKinney Fire – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

Red flag warnings through Monday have firefighters working quickly to shore up containment lines

The McKinney Fire is seen from the Walker Road and Highway 96 bridge looking southeast. [Inciweb photo]

Containment of the McKinney fire near the Oregon border in northern California has grown to 40 percent and was listed as 60,271 acres Sunday morning, 227 acres more than the size reported Saturday.

A red flag warning for potentially strong winds, high temperatures, low humidity and the possibility of thunderstorms had firefighters warily watching the skies on Sunday, but incident commanders were very optimistic they were on track to reign in the biggest fire of the year in California. .

“We had a really good day Saturday,” Dennis Burns, fire behavior analyst for the California Interagency Incident Management Team, said at a fire briefing Sunday morning.

In the northwest corner of the fire, an area of ​​concern Saturday because of unlined areas of steep terrain with the potential to push the fire away from containment, “crews have gone in there and we have everything. We have hose. place … and crews are searching and destroying anything near the lines,” Burns said.

It’s pretty much the same story all the way to the south end of the fire, the part about Fort Jones, Burns said. “The plan (Sunday) is to get in there and start knocking out the hot spots,” he added.

“Our Achilles heel” is still the north side of the fire, “going from the (Klamath River) to the top of the mountain. We have about a mile of hand lines to build, and it’s super terrain, super steep.”

The big story for (Sunday and Monday) “and possibly into Tuesday,” Burns said, “is the red flag warning for not only high winds and low relative humidity, but extremely unstable conditions in the atmosphere, which thing means anything that enters our environment.the lines will grow quickly.

“We’re not anticipating any forward movement on the fire, but unfortunately we have some unburned islands … with heat, so anything inland that can gain momentum has the potential to throw spot fires over our lines. ” he said.

“What the fire could do is go from a wind-driven fire, which is actually quite difficult to keep up with, and it could go with the instability to what we call a plume-dominated fire, and that’s where the fire he really controls the environment around him,” he explained.

“A couple of unfortunate things about this is that if the winds are over 25 mph, we won’t be able to use airplanes, because they’re just not effective, especially helicopters. The water that falls from the buckets is blown around by the wind, so we’re crossing our fingers and hoping everything stays within the lines,” Burns said.

“The great thing about wind events is that they’re short-term, mostly from 2 p.m. to just after sunset, so they’re not a long-term event like a Santa Ana wind in the Southern California.”

With prevailing winds from the southwest, smoke from the McKinney Fire was expected to move into southern Oregon by Sunday afternoon.

A community meeting is being planned for 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 8 in Fort Jones at Scott Valley High School, 237 Butte St. The meeting will be broadcast live on and CAL FIRE’s Siskiyou Unit Facebook page,

In the Yeti and Alex fires, burning west of the McKinney Fire along the Klamath River in the western Seiad Valley, the total size was listed Sunday at 8,029 acres.

The Alex Fire was reported at 151 acres and 80 percent contained, while the Yeti Fire was 7,878 acres and 19 percent contained, according to InciWeb.

Contact Mail Tribune Editor David Smigelski at 541-776-4484 or

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