California Blaze Kills One Person, First Fatality In Year’s Fire Season

The heat wave, fanning the fires, is expected to stretch into the weekend.

California wildfire
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The heat wave, fanning the fires, is expected to stretch into the weekend.

A raging wildfire in Northern California has claimed its first victim.

On Friday, authorities discovered the charred remains of a person, marking the first fatality during this year’s fire season, Reuters reported.

Firefighting crews found the body in the rubble of a burned-down home, and investigators are still trying to identify the dead.

“We don’t know who it is, we’re trying to do best we can to identify the person,” said Lieutenant Jeremiah LaRue of the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.

The lethal Klamathon fire erupted on Thursday and has since scorched some 8,000 acres on the border of California and Oregon.

California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency for Siskiyou County, where the flames prompted the evacuation of some 400 people and threatened 300 structures in Hornbrook.

“I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exists in Siskiyou County,” Brown said in his proclamation, which directed state resources to battling the fire.

The blaze, which was deliberately set, according to officials, is only 5 percent contained and earlier on Friday led to the closure of I-5 in both directions. The highway has since reopened, but evacuations are in place for Hilt and Colestein Valley, which lie a mere two miles south of the state line.

Authorities in Oregon have warned outdoors enthusiasts to avoid the woods straddling the Oregon-California border. The fire is yet to cross over the state divide, but officials already expressed concerns that residents in far-flung communities could be unreachable in the event of a rapid evacuation.

Spurred by extremely hot weather and severe winds, the fire is one of around 10 major wildfires that are currently ravaging the western U.S..

Blazes have covered over 2.8 million acres in the country this year through Thursday, a slight uptick from the same period over the last decade, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

The largest California conflagration, dubbed County Fire, has burned more than 88,000 acres in Napa and Yolo Counties, CNN reported. So far, it is 37 percent under control.

Another brush fire is sizzling across 400 acres in a highly populated area in east San Diego County, where a firefighter suffered burns while on duty.

To the east, overnight showers helped slow down the biggest wildfire in Colorado, which has blackened nearly 106,000 acres since it ignited in late June.

More than 4,000 firefighters are battling the wildfires.