YREKA, Calif. -- Two bodies were found inside a charred vehicle in a driveway in the wildfire zone of a raging California blaze that was among several menacing thousands of homes Monday in the western U.S., officials said. Hot and gusty weather and lightning storms threatened to boost the danger that the fires will keep growing,
The McKinney Fire in Northern California near the state line with Oregon exploded in size to nearly 87 square miles (225 square km) after erupting Friday in the Klamath National Forest, firefighting officials said. It is California's largest wildfire of the year so far and officials have not determined the cause.
The vehicle and the bodies were found Sunday morning in the driveway of a residence near the remote community of Klamath River, the Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
Nearly 5,000 Northern California homes and other structures were threatened and an unknown number of buildings have burned, said Adrienne Freeman, a spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service.
The smoky blaze cast an eerie, orange-brown hue in one neighborhood where a brick chimney stood surrounded by rubble and scorched vehicles on Sunday. Flames torched trees along State Route 96 and raced through hillsides in sight of homes.
Valerie Linfoot's son, a fire dispatcher, called to tell her their family home of three decades in Klamath River had burned. Linfoot said her husband worked as a U.S. Forest Service firefighter for years and the family did everything they could to prepare their house for a wildfire - including installing a metal roof and trimming trees and tall grasses around the property.
"It was as safe as we could make it, and it was just so dry and so hot and the fire was going so fast," Linfoot told the Bay Area News Group. She said her neighbors have also lost homes.
"It's a beautiful place. And from what I've seen, it's just decimated. It's absolutely destroyed," she told the news group.
Firefighting crews on the ground were trying to prevent the blaze from moving closer to the town of Yreka, which has a population of about 7,500. The blaze was about four miles (6.4 kilometers) away as of Monday.
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