Dangerous winds could hamper fight against massive, lethal McKinney fire

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Strong winds expected to sweep through the Shasta Valley could hinder the progress made in recent days by thousands of firefighters in containing the massive and deadly McKinney wildfire burning at the California-Oregon border.

Since it began in the Klamath National Forest late last month, the blaze has killed four people, destroyed 87 homes and consumed 60,044 acres, but its spread has slowed over the past few days, with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reporting 30% containment. It is the largest wildfire in the state so far this year.

Forecasts of wind gusts of up to 30 mph pose significant new risks and prompted the National Weather Service in Medford, Ore., to prepare to issue a red flag warning for Yreka, Calif., and other parts of the valley along Interstate 5 starting Sunday afternoon.

“When you put a lot of wind on a fire, a lot of bad things can happen,” said Ryan Sandler, one of the meteorologists monitoring the situation. Dangerous wind conditions are expected through at least Monday.

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