McKinney Fire 80% Content – Medford News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News

A crew member with Alpine Wildfire Services does cleanup work on the McKinney Fire near Mill Creek Road. The fire burning in Siskiyou County, California is 80% contained. [Inciweb photo]

Assistance center available for affected residents

As crews in Northern California reinforce lines on the McKinney Fire burning just south of the Oregon border, officials are getting a better understanding of the destruction left in the wake of the more than 60,000 acres of the wildfire.

The McKinney Fire is now 80 percent contained and remains stable Thursday night at 60,389 acres, according to Friday updates from the Klamath National Forest and Cal Fire Siskiyou Unit.

The Siskiyou County Office of Emergency Management has confirmed that 185 structures have been destroyed by the fire, including 118 homes, since it broke out on the afternoon of July 29.

A local assistance center will open next week, with resources for those affected by the fire available from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 17 and 18, at the College of the Siskiyous Rural Health Sciences Institute, 2001 Campus Drive, Yreka .

Four civilian deaths have been reported since the fire was first detected at 2:15 pm on July 29 in the Oak Knoll Ranger District of the Klamath National Forest. The cause is currently under investigation.

The fire is not expected to grow Friday, fire behavior analyst Dennis Burns with the California Interagency Incident Management Team 2 said in a morning video update. This is partly due to favorable weather conditions, such as reduced wind gusts compared to previous days and relative humidity ranging from 13 to 20%.

About 2,459 personnel are working on the fire, according to the Forest Service.

Burns said crews are using those conditions to “aggressively knock out” the fire Friday. Although the fire is not producing much smoke, there is still “significant heat” coming from the north end of the fire.

“Think of it like a barbecue, a pit full of coals — it doesn’t produce a lot of smoke, but there’s a lot of heat,” Burns said. “The concern is that we will have strong winds; it picks up these embers, or a whirlwind of fire or a dust devil picks up these embers and carries them across the lines.

“Crews are on a search and destroy mission to try and find them.”

Crews are using infrared to identify and mark hot spots, but those inside the uncontained portion of the fire zone remain a challenge because it’s not yet safe to deploy firefighters inside.

Fire officials updated their footprint for the nearby Gorge Fire, which broke out Thursday afternoon southwest of the McKinney Fire, at 14 acres. Crews previously estimated the fire was fully contained by Thursday night at more than 20 acres.

A portion of Highway 96 was reopened Thursday to people living in the area between Beaver Creek and Kohl Creek, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. Drivers are encouraged to check with CalTrans for the latest road conditions and closures a

Contact Web Editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.

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