McKinney Fire: SF hiker talks about being stranded on mountain trail as massive wildfire erupts

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Monday, August 1, 2022
SF hiker talks about being stuck on trail near McKinney Fire
A San Francisco hiker recounts being stranded in the Pacific Crest Trail that was closed off due to the massive McKinney Fire in Siskiyou County.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The McKinney Fire in northern California, near the Oregon border, has burned more than 50,000 acres. Evacuations are currently in place and the popular Pacific Crest Trail has been closed in spots.

Devastating fire images coming from far Northern California, close to the Oregon border where the McKinney Fire has exploded in size and is now the largest fire in California this year.

"Really erratic winds from the start of the incident, all the way up until now still pretty breezy," said Kelsey Lofdahl of the U.S. Forest Service

RELATED: McKinney Fire in California-Oregon border explodes to 51,648 acres, evacuations ordered

Homes have been destroyed and evacuations are in place in Siskiyou county, but it's not just homeowners being put in life threatening situations.

"Things are looking pretty not great, it's very smoky here, you can smell it, you can see it," said Kathryn Dybdahl, who is a hiker from San Francisco. Dybdahl is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and was stranded in Etna, California with dozens of other hikers when we spoke with her on the phone Saturday evening.

"I saw a big plume of smoke and thought, oh that's not good. It was quite scary and I knew the fire was close and that was pretty scary," said Dybdahl.

Because of these flames and the intense smoke, the Pacific Crest Trail was closed near Etna, all the way to Ashland, Oregon as flames tore through parts of the Klamath National Forest. Nearly 47 square miles make up the current fire zone as crews try to get a handle on the situation.

"People were having to turn around and come back to the highway where I hitched off of, just because the smoke was so bad. We started to see the smoke and it was kind of settling in the valleys, in the mountains, and we were like 'yup it's time to get to a road and get out of here'," said Dybdahl.

When we learned of Dybdahl's situation we posted about it on our ABC7 News Facebook page. Dozens of viewers responded with recommendations and possible solutions. Kathryn tells us she and four other hikers received a ride to Ashland, Oregon Saturday evening. She is grateful for all of the messages she received and happy for the ride, but says it is extremely smoky where she is.

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