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McKinney Fire at California-Oregon border explodes to 51,648 acres, evacuations ordered

SISKIYOU COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) — Wildfires burning in Siskiyou County, near the California-Oregon border, erupted overnight in windy, hot conditions and quickly encroached on neighborhoods, forcing evacuation orders.

The video in the media player above is from a previous report.

On Sunday, the McKinney Fire burned 51,648 acres and is 0% contained, officials said.

Several evacuation orders and warnings remain in effect.

More than 100 homes were ordered to evacuate and authorities were warning people to be on high alert. Smoke from the fire caused the closure of portions of Highway 96.

The McKinney Fire is now the biggest wildfire of the season in California, surpassing the Oak Fire in Mariposa County.

According to firefighters. The blaze burned at least a dozen residences and wild animals were seen fleeing the area to avoid the flames.

“It continues to grow with erratic winds and thunderstorms in the area and we have triple digit temperatures,” said Caroline Quintanilla, spokesperson for Klamath National Forest.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the fire escalated. The proclamation gives Newsom more flexibility to make emergency response and recovery effort decisions and access federal assistance.

It also allows “firefighting resources from other states to assist California crews with firefighting,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.

A heavy accumulation of vegetation was fueling the McKinney Fire, said Tom Stokesberry, U.S. Forest Service spokesman for the region.

“It’s a very dangerous fire – the geography there is steep and rugged, and that particular area hasn’t burned in a while,” he said.

A small fire was also burning nearby, outside the town of Seiad, Stokesberry said. With lightning forecast for the next few days, resources from across California have been mobilized to help fight the area’s fires, he said.

McKinney’s explosive growth has forced crews to shift from trying to control the fire’s perimeter to trying to protect homes and critical infrastructure like water tanks and power lines, and assisting with evacuations in Siskiyou County, the northernmost in California.

Deputies and law enforcement were knocking on the doors of the Yreka County seat and the town of Fort Jones urging residents to get out and evacuate their livestock safely in trailers. Automated calls were also sent to landline telephones as there were areas with no cell phone service.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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