Bodies found in car in US fire zone

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Two bodies have been found inside a charred car in a driveway in the wildfire zone of a raging California blaze that was among several menacing thousands of homes in the western US.

Hot and gusty weather and lightning storms have threatened to boost the danger that the fires will keep growing.

The McKinney fire in northern California near the state line with Oregon exploded in size to nearly 225 square kilometres after erupting Friday in the Klamath National Forest, firefighting officials said.

It is California's largest wildfire of the year and officials have not yet determined the cause.

The vehicle and the bodies were found Sunday morning in the driveway of a residence near the remote community of Klamath River, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said.

Nearly 5000 homes and other structures were threatened and an unknown number of buildings have burned, US Forest Service spokeswoman Adrienne Freeman said.

Firefighting crews were trying to prevent the blaze moving closer to the town of Yreka, population about 7500.

A second, smaller fire in the region that was sparked by dry lightning Saturday threatened the tiny California community of Seiad Valley.

Erratic storms were expected to move through northern California again on Monday with lightning that threatened to spark new fires in bone-dry vegetation, forecasters said.

A day earlier, thunderstorms caused flash flooding that damaged roads in Death Valley National Park and in mountains east of Los Angeles.

In northwestern Montana, winds picked up on Monday afternoon on a fire burning in forested land west of Flathead Lake, forcing fire managers to ground all aircraft and leading the Lake County Sheriff's Office to start evacuating residents on the northeastern corner of the fire.

The fire, which started Friday afternoon near the town of Elmo on the Flathead Indian Reservation, measured 52 sq km, fire officials said.

The Moose Fire in Idaho has burned more than 220 sq km in the Salmon-Challis National Forest while threatening homes, mining operations and fisheries near the town of Salmon. It was 23 per cent contained on Monday.

And a wildfire raging in northwestern Nebraska led to evacuations and destroyed or damaged several homes near the small city of Gering.

In California, Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday.

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