A longtime U.S. Forest Service wildfire lookout is among the four people confirmed to have died in the McKinney fire burning near the California-Oregon border.
Kathy Shoopman, 73, died at her home in the community of Klamath River as a result of the fire, officials with Klamath National Forest said Monday.
“Kathy started her career as a lookout at Baldy Mountain Lookout, west of Happy Camp, in 1974,” officials said. “Since then, she has staffed Lake Mountain Lookout, and most recently staffed Buckhorn Lookout, a post she has held since 1993.”
A resident of Klamath River for nearly 50 years, she was remembered as a talented artist, gardener and an animal lover, officials said.
As of Monday morning, the McKinney fire had charred 60,379 acres and was 40% contained, officials said. There were 3,266 personnel assigned to the blaze.
Authorities were cautiously optimistic about the fire outlook, stating that the burn pattern in the blaze’s northwestern region was “creating less severity in that area.”
Firefighters continued mop-up operations and were securing and evaluating their primary and secondary lines around the fire, officials said.
“Several interior islands of vegetation ignited leading to multiple group torching observations, but this was no threat to current containment lines,” officials said. “As the fire progresses east, road systems are expected to help limit fire spread. With the steep terrain and the fire backing downhill, the concern for potential rollout that could challenge current established containment lines remains on the forefront of firefighters’ minds.”
A red flag warning is in effect for the area until Tuesday evening, officials said.
Additional information was not available late Monday afternoon; a community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Fort Jones.