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4 dead in California wildfire as blaze continues to claim lives

Search teams found two people at residences in Northern California on Monday, according to officials.
Sheriff's deputies leave a home where a McKinney Fire victim was found on Aug. 1, 2022, in Klamath National Forest, Calif.
Sheriff's deputies leave a home where a McKinney Fire victim was found Monday in Klamath National Forest in California.Noah Berger / AP

The death toll from California's McKinney Fire has grown to at least four after two more people were found dead at homes in Northern California on Monday, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said.

On Sunday, two bodies were found in a burned-out vehicle in a driveway in the path of the state's largest fire of the year so far.

Their identities have not been released, the sheriff's office said.

"At this time, there are no unaccounted for persons," the sheriff's office tweeted.

The McKinney Fire, which began burning Friday afternoon, has ballooned to more than 56,100 acres, Klamath National Forest said on Twitter. However, "cloudy, cooler conditions" Tuesday kept it from expanding even farther, officials said.

The China 2 Fire, a smaller fire farther west of McKinney, has been "moderate," officials said.

"Lower temperatures and higher relative humidity, including rain over some areas of the fire ... allowed firefighters to make good progress on the fire yesterday," Klamath National Forest said in a statement Tuesday.

About a week ago, California's largest fire of the year was the 19,000-acre Oak Fire about 400 miles south, in Mariposa County. That blaze, roughly 40 miles from Yosemite National Park, was 64% contained Sunday.

The state, which has had a string of years with six-figure-acreage fires, has so far this year avoided blazes as big as behemoths of recent history. The August Complex Fire in 2020 scorched more than 1 million acres.

It’s not clear why this year has been less incendiary. Fires have generally gotten worse in lockstep with climate change and the continued warming of the planet.

A 2009 analysis published in Forest Ecology and Management concluded that most regions will soon “face moderate fire potential for the entire year,” not just in summer and fall.

“As record temperatures and very dry fuels continue to be reported in many states, wildland firefighters need everyone to do their part to prevent wildfires,” the National Interagency Fire Center said in a statement.

Climate change has helped to produce most of the planet’s 10 hottest years since the start of the 2010s, creating ideal fire temperatures and ideal fuel on the ground — dry, brittle and ready for exothermic reaction.

The 10 largest wildfires in California have all happened since 2010.