A wildfire that leaped over the Klamath River before surging into the woodlands near the Oregon-California border claimed the first fire-season fatality in the state Friday morning, and kept fire crews racing to contain it all day, San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in Siskiyou County, noting that residents were in “extreme peril.”
The Klamathon Fire, which started near the tiny town of Hornbrook (Siskiyou County), has forced evacuations, damaged or destroyed at least 12 structures, and by Friday afternoon it had ravaged more than 8,000 acres and was only about 5 percent contained, according to local officials and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire.
It is just the latest of three major blazes to erupt in the past two weeks in Northern California, adding to a cluster of fires from San Diego to Yreka (Siskiyou County) that have created an unusually early fire season that has officials on edge.
“Some of the fire behavior we’re seeing now is more of what we’d normally see later, like in September,” said Cal Fire Capt. Amy Head. “Cooler temperatures would obviously be helpful, but we’re not going to see that right away.”
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that fire crews located the body of a resident among the charred ruins of a neighborhood of Hornbrook at about 5:30 a.m. Friday. More details were unavailable, as law enforcement has struggled to identify the body, said sheriff’s Lt. Jeremiah LaRue, a spokesman for the office.
Posted by Tommy Davis on Thursday, July 5, 2018
“We don’t even have an address because of the devastation around the area,” he said. “There’s stuff burned everywhere.”
But as of midday Friday, law enforcement did not expect any more fatalities.
— Oregon DOT (@OregonDOT) July 6, 2018
#Klamathon Fire It is at 500 plus acres and zero percent contained. Multiple structures are threatened. An evacuation order is currently in effect for Klamathon Road from Interstate 5 to Ager and all Hornbrook. The evacuation orders now include the Hilt /Colestein Valley areas. pic.twitter.com/v2AEoygGKv
— Nancy Hood (@sassybellsqueak) July 6, 2018
— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) July 6, 2018
Officials have yet to officially identify what started the blaze, but they have a good idea of where it started.
This is the second major fire in recent years that has torn through the rural spread of California towns near the Oregon border. In 2014, the Boles Fire devastated the town of Weed, about 40 minutes south of Hornbrook on Interstate 5, and it destroyed more than 150 homes.
“It’s awful to see that kind of destruction to such a tight-knit community again,” Derra said. “At the same time, though, there’s a lot of people coming together to help out these fire victims and evacuees just like there was after the Boles Fire.”
An evacuation order was still in effect Friday for Klamathon Road, from Interstate 5 to Ager Road, as well as for residents of Hornbrook and the communities of Hilt in California and Colestin Valley in Oregon, according to Cal Fire.
We will keep you updated.
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