California battles its largest 2022 fire

·1-min read

Crews battling the largest wildfire this year in California have braced for thunderstorms and hot, windy conditions that created the potential for additional fire growth as they sought to protect remote communities.

The McKinney fire was burning out of control in northern California's Klamath National Forest, with expected thunderstorms a big concern on Sunday just south of the Oregon state line, US Forest Service spokesperson Adrienne Freeman said.

"The fuel beds are so dry and they can just erupt from that lightning," Freeman said.

"These thunder cells come with gusty, erratic winds that can blow fire in every direction."

The blaze exploded in size to more than 207 square kilometres just two days after erupting in a largely unpopulated area of Siskiyou County, according to a Sunday incident report.

The McKinney fire "remains 0% contained", the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post.

The cause was under investigation.

A second, smaller fire just to the west that was sparked by dry lightning Saturday threatened the tiny town of Seiad, Freeman said.

About 400 structures were under threat from the two California fires.

A third fire, which was on the southwest end of the McKinney blaze, prompted evacuation orders for about 500 homes.

In northwest Montana, a fire sparked in grasslands near the town of Elmo had grown to about 44 sq km after advancing into forest.

High temperatures and erratic winds were expected, said Sara Rouse, a spokeswoman with the interagency team assigned to the fire.

In Idaho, the Moose fire in the Salmon-Challis National Forest has burned more than 196 sq km.

It was 21 per cent contained by Sunday morning.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency on Saturday as the McKinney fire intensified.

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