Four Klamath River residents killed in McKinney Fire identified
The Siskiyou County Sheriff's Office released the names of the four Klamath River residents who died during the McKinney Fire.
Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue, in a post on the sheriff's office Facebook page, said investigators used rapid DNA technology and dental records to identify the fire victims.
- Kathleen Shoopman, age 73
- Charles Kays, 79
- Judith Kays, 82
- John Cogan, 76
Shoopman, a longtime U.S. Forest Service employee and fire lookout, died at her home when the McKinney Fire started July 29, Forest Service officials previously announced.
Two bodies were found inside a charred vehicle in the driveway of a home and the other person died at a separate residence, officials have said.
"The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office extends its deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victims. If you are willing, please keep those affected by this fire in your prayers," LaRue said in the post.
The sheriff thanked the Butte County Sheriff's Office and Dr. Duane Spencer, a dentist, for assisting with DNA and dental analyses.
The McKinney Fire started the Friday afternoon of July 29. It burned fastest and hottest that night when a thunderstorm blew into the area with driving winds and gusts up to 50 mph. It went on to destroy much of the small community of Klamath River in northwest Siskiyou County, where the victims lived.
A survey of the fire damage found 185 structures were destroyed. Firefighters had surrounded 95% of the fire as of Saturday morning after the blaze burned nearly 60,400 acres.
A lawsuit filed this week against PacifiCorp alleged the fire started in the area of Highway 96 and McKinney Creek Road, where the electric utility has a transmission line.
The suit alleges sparks from PacifiCorp's equipment ignited the blaze.
However, Kaitlyn Webb, a spokeswoman for the McKinney Fire, said Tuesday the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
Five people were named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against PacifiCorp of Oregon, which provides electricity to residents in Siskiyou County.
The suit lists Beverly U. Bridges, Amelia Anderson, Robert V. Cloyd, Shawn Kazen and Michael Nowdesha as plaintiffs. The filing says they are residents or business owners in Siskiyou County.
Janet Jones, chief of the Klamath River Volunteer Fire Department, on Aug. 2 said she was on the initial attack on the fire, working with crews from the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The blaze was still less than 200 acres on that Friday afternoon, and crews were making good progress on the fire, she said.
She said big storm clouds moved in that night and a strong wind came up, forcing them to quickly retreat. They didn't even have time to gather their portable pumps and fire hoses.
"There wasn't time to pick them up. It was that fast. Yeah, as we were coming out, we were passing the engines down below us as they were disconnecting their hose. And they're like, 'Should we try to pick these up?' and we were like, 'No, you guys need to go.'"
Jenny Espino is the local news editor of the Record Searchlight.