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Officials announced on Tuesday that two additional corpses have been discovered in an area charred by a forest fire that has been blazing for a fifth day in northern California near the Oregon border, increasing the total number of deaths in the state’s worst wildfire this year to four.

According to a statement published by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office, the newest two deaths were discovered on Monday at different residences along a route that goes through the fire zone in the Klamath National Forest approximately 300 miles (483 km) north of San Francisco.

The corpses of two more persons found on Sunday inside a burned-out automobile that went off the driveway of another property along the same roadway, sheriff’s authorities said on Monday. 

Authorities said that no additional information on any of the deceased will be disclosed until a definite identification was achieved and the next of kin were contacted.

The McKinney fire, which began on Friday, has scorched more than 56,000 acres (22,662 hectares) of drought-parched wood, long grass, and brush, according to fire authorities on Tuesday.

As of Tuesday, around 4,500 individuals were under evacuation orders, according to sheriff’s spokesman Courtney Kreider, who also said that an estimated 100 buildings, ranging from sheds to homes, had caught fire.

Klamath River, an unincorporated riverbank enclave with less than 200 inhabitants, was particularly heavily affected, destroying multiple houses and its community center to the fire, according to Kreider.

Almost 5,000 homes in the county were designated as being endangered by fire.

The fatality toll more than doubled after a night of comparatively modest fire development compared to prior nights. According to Dennis Burns, a fire behavior expert with the incident management team, high humidity levels helped tamp down the flames as personnel worked to carve buffer lines to safeguard towns on the outside of the fire zone.

Much of the effort was concentrated on the outskirts of Yreka, the Siskiyou County seat and historic Gold Rush town that currently has a population of 7,800 people.

Thunderstorms in the forecast, according to Burns, might bring much-needed rain to the region, as well as unpredictable winds that could rekindle the flames, as well as lightning strikes that could spark new fires.

The cause of the McKinney fire was being investigated.

The fire broke out amid record-breaking heat in a location where drought-desiccated trees and vegetation had already generated a highly flammable fuel bed, consistent with the harsh circumstances attributed to human-caused climate change.

Source: Reuters

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