Dozens of hikers were rescued from the Pacific Crest Trail over the weekend as the McKinney Fire continues to devastate Northern California’s Klamath National Forest.
60 people were rescued Saturday afternoon on the California side of the road in Red Bates Wilderness, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office officials said. The evacuation was with the help of the Siskiyou County Mayor’s search and rescue team.
“The difference with hikers on the trail is that they’re not mobile,” said Aaron Lewis, the Jackson County Police Department’s public information officer. “[We] He went to the trails near the roads and began to collect hikers. They weren’t necessarily in immediate danger.”
Oregon authorities said the hikers were moved from the 1055 junction to Seattle Bar in Applegate Lake before being transferred to Medford or Ashland.
As of Monday morning, the McKinney fire — the largest this year in California — has burned 55,493 acres in the Klamath National Forest near the California and Oregon border. On Monday, the authorities announced that two people had been found dead inside a charred car in the area of the fire. The fire was 0% contained.
Officials said the fire was spewing smoke and ash in Jackson County, but there was no immediate threat to the community as of the weekend.
The US Forest Service closed 110 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail through August 30 due to the fire. It closed from the summit of Etna in Northern California to the Mount Ashland Campground in southern Oregon.
Emergency shutdown violators may face fines of $5,000 per person or $10,000 for an organization and up to six months in prison.
The route’s website warns: “If you are a PCT subscriber in this area, please evacuate to the nearest town.”
The National Weather Service issued a science red alert through Monday evening for parts of Oregon as firefighters braced for thunderstorms that could exacerbate conditions.
“We do not have the advantage of the coup that we had yesterday [layer]”Yesterday we didn’t have the massive growth we saw the day before,” said US Forest Service spokeswoman Carolina Quintanilla.
Lightning and high winds during incoming storms can ignite dry fuel and fan flames, Quintanilla said.
“With thunderstorms, when the cells build up, they create choppy winds, sometimes they cause rain but sometimes they don’t,” she said. “The rain we got yesterday from the thunderstorms made the grass not flammable, but the big trees and branches, which are still very dry from the long drought we’ve been seeing.”
Thunderstorms are expected around noon and likely to last through Tuesday, according to the Weather Service.