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Thunderstorms and mudslides have hampered firefighters’ battle this week against the deadly McKinney fire in Klamath National Forest at the California-Oregon border, authorities said.
Three inches of rain on the fire’s east flank caused mudslides and wreaked havoc for firefighters struggling to stop the steady advance of the blaze, which has killed four people. The fire remained at 56,668 acres and containment at 10% on Thursday evening, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
“When the water comes down that fast, it doesn’t penetrate. It just runs off, which actually causes some problems,” said Dennis Burns, fire behavior analyst for the U.S. Forest Service. “We had a lot of mudslides, washed out some roads, some vehicles were stuck, things like that, but it had very little effect on the fire.”
One video circulating on Twitter on Wednesday showed a semi-truck and at least three pickups stopped on a road as a river of muddy water rushed down steep terrain.