McKinney Fire kills thousands of fish

As a deadly fire continued to burn in northern California’s Klamath National Forest last week, local fisherman Kenneth Brink counted dea...


As a deadly fire continued to burn in northern California’s Klamath National Forest last week, local fisherman Kenneth Brink counted dead fish in a river that had taken on the consistency of ‘auburn milk. chocolate”.

Mr. Brink, 45, a member of the Karuk tribe, lives in Happy Camp, a town of fewer than 900 people on the Klamath River in Siskiyou County, California. The city is close to the border with Oregon. On Friday, he traveled about 20 miles upstream, where he made the grim discovery: thousands of dead suckers, salmon and trout, many of them floating belly up.

“It smells bad,” Mr. Brink said. “If it was in that river, he’s dead.”

The McKinney Fire began July 29 and swept over 60,000 acres, killing four people and becoming California’s largest fire so far this year. According to local tribal leaders, the blaze has also resulted in the massive death of fish in the Klamath River, which stretches more than 250 miles from southern Oregon, through northern California and to the ‘Pacific Ocean.

Up to three inches of rain fell on areas scorched by the fire on Tuesday, sending a flow of debris of scorched earth, rocks and downed wood into the river, said Mike Lindbery, a public information officer for the McKinney fire.

These debris turned into plume of brown “mud” that made its way downstream, according to tribal officials. A water quality monitoring station on the river recorded the level of dissolved oxygen in the water as zero for Wednesday and Thursday, they added. Sea creatures typically survive in water that contains about eight milligrams of oxygen per liter, but the oxygen level in this section of the river has made it impossible for fish to survive.

“It just sterilizes the whole river in that stretch,” said Craig Tucker, the tribe’s political adviser. It was unclear whether the debris flow would affect the migration of chinook salmon, which usually begins in the fall, he added.

On Sunday, the McKinney fire, which caused the evacuation of thousands of people, was 40% under control, authorities said. in a report on the fire. But Mr Lindbery, the public information officer, warned that dangerous conditions in the coming days could reverse some of that progress.

Gusty winds, low humidity and a “very unstable atmosphere” above the fire, he said, could create circumstances in which embers could fall well outside the line of fire. There was also a possibility that a huge cloud known as pyrocumulonimbus could expand and eventually collapse, generating erratic winds, he said.

The development and construction of dams had already threatened the salmon population of the Klamath River, impact on local tribal groups.

Mr. Brink, the fisherman, noted that all the fish that were killed have cultural significance to the local tribes who live near the river. He said he felt frustrated with the area’s forest management history, which had in the past prohibited local tribes from carrying out cultural burning to tame the landscape.

“It’s chaos,” he said of the blaze’s impact on his community of Happy Camp, which is about 35 miles from two blazes: the deadly McKinney blaze and the Yeti fire, which grew up at almost 8,000 acres.

He added: “I’m about to cry.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: McKinney Fire kills thousands of fish
McKinney Fire kills thousands of fish
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