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Evacuation orders expand for Humboldt County lightning fires; McKinney Fire holds steady

Crews battle McKinney, Six Rivers Lightning Complex Fires
Crews battle McKinney, Six Rivers Lightning Complex Fires 00:42

HUMBOLDT COUNTY -- Firefighters continued to battle fires burning in remote areas of Northern California as the Six Rivers Lightning Complex Fires triggered more evacuations in Humboldt County.

Lightning strikes over Humboldt and Trinity counties started a series of fires on Friday.

The Six Rivers Lightning Complex Fires -- also being referred to as the 2022 SRF Lightning Complex Fire Incident -- triggered expanded evacuations Saturday evening at around 7:30 p.m. as the fires expanded to the north.

The group of eight fires still burning has consumed approximately 1,100 acres so far and remain at 0% containment.

There were already mandatory evacuation orders in the areas east and south of Willow Creek Friday evening. 

The fires are burning in areas of steep terrain and dry conditions. The U.S. Forest Service for Six Rivers National Forest is managing the incident with Cal Fire deploying additional resources Saturday to assist in the firefighting efforts.

Humboldt County Sheriff's deputies continue to patrol the areas under evacuation order to notify residents of the order and conduct looting prevention.

Meanwhile, firefighters battling the McKinney Fire near the California-Oregon border faced another day of hot breezy weather Sunday, with  the massive blaze growing slightly overnight.

Cal Fire's latest figures on the fire that started over a week ago in Siskiyou County placed it at 60,271 acres with 40% containment as of Sunday morning.

Crews dealt with sunny, hot, and dry conditions over the incident on Saturday. High temperatures ranged from the lower 80s on the ridges to near 100 in the valley. Humidity values improved somewhat from recent days to 20 to 35% across the entire incident. Winds were light to moderate downslope in the morning then switched to westerly in the afternoon with gusts from 15 to 20 mph.

It remained mostly clear overnight with moderate humidity recoveries. A Red Flag Warning for wind and relative humidity is in effect for the McKinney Fire.

California and much of the rest of the West is in drought and wildfire danger is high, with the historically worst of the fire season still to come. Fires are burning throughout the region.

At the McKinney Fire's southeastern corner, evacuation orders for sections of Yreka, home to about 7,800 people, were downgraded to warnings earlier this week, allowing residents to return home but with a caution that the situation remained dangerous.

About 1,300 people remained under evacuation orders, officials said at a community meeting Wednesday evening.

More than 100 homes and other buildings have burned and four bodies have been found, including two in a burned car in a driveway.   

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