McKinney Fire – 7/30/2022 – The Lookout

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By Zeke Lunder

The McKinney Fire burned very actively through the night, spreading across tens of thousands of acres. It was pushing up a big column by 10 am this morning.

These following maps are made with public aerial infrared mapping data from FIRIS (Funded by California OES). Having near real-time access to taxpayer-funded fire intelligence is a game-changer, and we are grateful for all the hard work being done by the pilots, techs, and programmers who are making this all possible.

View south over the fire at 11:45am, 7/30/22 – 30,000 acres after less than 21 hours of burning. Fire spread across Highway 96 and into the 2014 Beaver Fire scar around dusk on 7/29/22.

It’s not inconceivable the McKinney fire will burn to Scott Valley, Scott River Rd, Hwy 3, Yreka, or Cottonwood Peak. Burning conditions are extreme, fire already has 55 miles of open fireline, new starts are likely, and fire will likely outpace indirect firefighting for days. 2014 Frying Pan Fire, 2016 Gap Fire, and 2014 Beaver Fire in blue. Purple tint shows this fire burning in to 2014 Beaver Fire.

Western flank of the fire is backing toward Horse Creek.

Looking SW over Quigley’s Resort. There are only a couple good ridge systems for a big containment box on this fire (these take time to prep, and tankers alone aren’t going to get it done). The first of these (above Mill Creek on upper-left of the map, below) has already been compromised, per air-attack (as of 11 am).

Map below looks SW over fire, downriver, toward Scott Bar. Yreka is 10 miles off the left-hand side of the fire. The ridge between Deadwood Baldy and Craggy Peak (middle-left of map) could be an important place to try to hold the fire, but with fire well-established in all of the drainages below, this ridgeline is not likely to work out for holding the fire.

Looking north over Highway 96, fire is well-established in 2014 Beaver Fire (blue).

Looking north over Fort Jones, the fire is very likely to cross south over the ridge west of Indian Creek Baldy (upper center) and move southeast toward Tyler Gulch Road.

Looking east over Scott Bar/Scott River Road, the fire is established in head of Mill Creek.

The Herd Peak and Hornbrook webcams showed massive pyrocumulus clouds on the north-end of the fire at about 2 pm. Wondering if biggest movement we see today might be terrain-driven on NE flank up Beaver Creek thru 2014 Beaver Fire toward the crest of the Siskiyous/Mt. Ashland?

View to north. Siskiyou Summit on upper-right.

The fire really took off about 9:45 this morning.

Column development between 9:30 and 10:15 am, from Antelope Mountain webcam, 7/30/22

Column development between 9:30 and 10:30 am, from Fort Jones webcam, 7/30/22

At 1pm, the fire was being pushed downhill into the head of Indian Creek by outflow winds from nearby thunderstorms.

A quick peak at the fire between smoke clouds, and it looks pretty apocalyptic. Fort Jones webcam, 16:35-16:50 on 7/30/2022.

Here is an incident update written at 1800hrs, and posted on wildfireintel.org.

30,000 Acres @ 1% Contained, 508 personnel assigned

Observed Fire Behavior:
Fire continues to move with high ROS driven by strong winds, steep slopes, short and long range spotting. High temperatures, poor RH recovery and low fuel moistures allowed burning conditions to continue through the nighttime hours. Fire has also been burning through the 2014 Beaver fire scar due to available fuels.

Primary Fuel Model/Hazard Info:
Thundercell development last night contributed to extreme ROS and increased spotting distances. ERC’s are above the 97th percentile.

Public Status Summary:
1,313 persons evacuated

Life Safety/Health Status:
Evacuations in effect for the Highway 96 corridor, communities of Oak Knoll, Klamath River from Interstate 5 to the town of Seiad. Vital communication, water and phone infrastructure immediately threatened. Point protection and structure defense operations on- going along the Highway 96 corridor. Red Flag warnings for thunderstorm and dry lightning in the fire area. Strong gusty outflow winds with associated high temperatures and single digit RH have driven fire behavior.

Weather Concerns:
Red Flag conditions for lightning continue into Sunday 7/31

Projected Incident Activity:
12-24hrs – Point protection, structure defense operations continue along the Highway 96 corridor, Beaver
Creek community. Scouting opportunities for indirect/direct line construction as fire moves in 12 hours: all directions. Fire has progressed to Collins Badly lookout in the south, and Deadwood Baldy
Peak on the east flank. FIre will continue to move west towards Horse Creek and north into the 2014 Beaver Fire scar towards Round Mountain.

Critical Resource Needs:
7-Type 1 or 2IA crews, 7-Type 3 Engine Strike Teams, 7-DIVS, 7-TFLD, 9-HEQB, 4-FELB, 6-Type 2 dozers, 5-Watertenders

Strategic Discussion
FIre is located in area with no fire current fire history south of Highway 96 and is being driven by extreme fire weather conditions of Red Flag warnings for thunderstorm development and dry lightning, single digit RH and high temperatures. Strong outflow winds and diurnal winds up and down canyon have contributed to fire spread. Continue with structure defense while scouting for opportunities for effective direct and indirect lines construction. Beaver Fire (2014) scar continues to carry fire through the receptive fuel bed.

Planned Actions for Next Op Period:
Continue with point protection, and structure defense. Scout indirect line locations where resources can be effective. Look for opportunities to go direct where fuels, topography allow.

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