The raging McKinney Fire near the Oregon- California
border sent residents and visitors fleeing flames and smoke soaring into the stratosphere this weekend.
The fire went from just around 40 acres shortly after starting Friday to over 50,000 Sunday morning, less than 48 hours later.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but new lightning-started fires are being detected around the perimeter of the main fire, according to officials with the Klamath National Forest.
“Persistent drought conditions have caused extremely dry, McKinney receptive fuels which have resulted in rapid fire spread,” read an incident update on Sunday.
In addition, a red flag warning called for strong and sometimes erratic winds that can allow the fire to spread any which way, putting firefighters in extreme danger.
Some wild footage shot Friday night shows firefighters escorting residents out of the burning area as flames lick the side of the road.
The fire is threatening the McKinney northern California towns of Yreka and Fort Jones where firefighters are working to protect the communities.
So far it has burned down at least a dozen homes and the Klamath River Community Hall.
As the fire blew up this weekend, driven by wind and abundant dry fuel, it created a dramatic cloud of smoke that rose up into Earth’s atmosphere, where it can be carried far and wide.
As of Sunday morning, the fire is zero percent contained. Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency.
The weather forecast calls for continued dangerous fire conditions thanks to gusty winds and thunderstorms.