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In this conservative corner of California, a monster fire that killed four people and destroyed more than 100 structures is being framed by many in political terms.
Some residents acknowledge the role of climate change in California’s increasingly destructive firestorms, but their true ire is often focused on decades of government policies they believe have worsened the fire risk and made fighting the destructive McKinney fire inside the Klamath National Forest more difficult.
Yreka, which sits in the shadow of that national forest, was once a “timber town” known for its logging industry. Some residents here this week said the slow death of that industry coincided with the increased frequency of wildfire in the area as vegetation became more and more overgrown.
“As a kid we very seldom worried that fires would get out of control and take out whole towns,” said Bill Robberson, 60, a lifelong resident of Siskiyou County and fourth-generation Californian.