Author: Brittany Falkers, KGW Staff
YREKA, Calif. (KGW) — An Oregon state representative and her husband escaped the deadly McKinney Fire burning at least 55,000 acres in Northern California.
Democratic Rep. Dacia Grayber and her husband were camping near Mount Ashland over the weekend, just north of the Oregon-California border. Grayber said they woke up in the middle of the night to gale-force winds and ash.
“Kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Do we wait this out? No, no, we got to get out of here.’ So that is what we did,” Grayber said.
The state legislator represents Tigard and Southwest Washington. She is also a full-time firefighter.
“It was just the ash and the wind were so intense and I can’t even imagine what it was like for the firefighters and the people being evacuated, because we were probably 8 to 10 miles away … and we were still impacted by this and you could see it blowing up over the ridge,” Grayber said.
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On Sunday morning, fire personnel found two people dead inside a vehicle that was burned in the path of the fire, according to the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office. The vehicle was in a residential driveway west of the community of Klamath River, California.
Thousands of people in the area have been evacuated. Video of the fire shows homes and vehicles destroyed.
On Sunday, 41 firefighters from Marion, Linn and Clackamas counties in Oregon were deployed to help protect communities impacted by the fire.
“Their primary focus down there is going to be structure protection. So protecting folks’ homes and that sort of thing,” said John Hendricks with the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office.
Crews battling the fire braced for thunderstorms and hot, windy conditions on Sunday.
“It’s amazing what a stretch of 90 to 100 plus days will have out in the forest, out in our wildland urban interface,” Hendricks said. “It really dries out those fine fuels, those bigger fuels. They start to dry out as well and so that really increases the fire danger.”
The McKinney fire started in the Klamath National Forest in Northern California and it’s the state’s largest wildfire so far this year.
“People shy away from talking about climate change, and it’s here and it’s real and it is blowing up in explosive ways that we’ve never seen before,” Grayber said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.