California suffers its largest blaze this year as fires spread in West
YREKA, Calif. — Crews battling the largest wildfire this year in California braced for thunderstorms and hot, windy conditions that created the potential for additional fire growth Sunday as they sought to protect remote communities.
The McKinney Fire was burning out of control in Northern California’s Klamath National Forest, with expected thunderstorms a big concern Sunday just south of the Oregon state line, said U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Adrienne Freeman.
“The fuel beds are so dry, and they can just erupt from that lightning,” Freeman said. “These thunder cells come with gusty erratic winds that can blow fire in every direction.”
The blaze exploded in size to more than 80 square miles two days after erupting in a largely unpopulated area of Siskiyou County, according to a Sunday incident report. The cause was under investigation.
The blaze torched trees along California Highway 96, and the scorched remains of a pickup truck sat in a lane of the highway. Thick smoke covered the area and flames burned through hillsides in sight of homes.
A second, smaller fire just to the west that was sparked by dry lightning Saturday, threatened the tiny town of Seiad, Freeman said. About 400 structures were under threat from the two California fires. Authorities have not confirmed the extent of the damage yet, saying assessments would begin when it was safe to reach the area.
A third fire, which was on the southwest end of the McKinney blaze, prompted evacuation orders for around 500 homes Sunday, said Courtney Kreider, a spokesperson with the Siskiyou County Sheriff ’s Office. The office said crews had been on the scene of the fire since late Saturday but that the fire Sunday morning “became active and escaped its containment line.”
Biden ‘rebound’ case: President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 for the second straight day, in what appears to be a rare case of “rebound” following treatment with an anti-viral drug.
In a letter noting the positive test, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the White House physician, said Sunday that the president “continues to feel well” and will keep on working from the executive residence while he isolates.
Biden tested positive Saturday, requiring him to cancel travel and in-person events as he isolates for at least five days in accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
After initially testing positive July 21, Biden, 79, was treated with the anti-viral drug Paxlovid. He tested negative for the virus Tuesday and Wednesday, clearing him to leave isolation while wearing a mask indoors.
Research suggests that a minority of those prescribed Paxlovid experience a rebound case of the virus.
Beirut port fire: A section of Beirut’s massive port grain silos, shredded in the 2020 explosion, collapsed in a huge cloud of dust Sunday after a weekslong fire, triggered by grains that had fermented and ignited in the summer heat.
The northern block of the silos toppled after what sounded like an explosion, kicking up thick gray dust
that enveloped the iconic structure and the port next to a residential area. It was not clear if anyone was injured.
Assaad Haddad the General Director of the Port Silo, told The Associated Press that “everything is under control” but that the situation has not subsided yet. Minutes later, the dust subsided and calm returned.
However, Youssef Mallah, from the Civil Defense department, said that other parts of the silos’ northern block were at risk and that other sections of the giant ruin could collapse.
Iranians, Taliban fight:
Iranian border guards clashed Sunday with the Afghan Taliban, Iranian media reported, the latest cross-border exchange since the former insurgents seized power in neighboring Afghanistan a year ago.
The official IRNA news agency quoted Meisam Barazandeh, governor of the border country of Hirmand
in eastern Iran, as saying that the incident is under investigation. He did not provide details about the clash or report any casualties.
There was no immediate comment from the Taliban.
Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news agency, which is close to Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, said the Taliban opened fire on houses on the eastern edge of the county, in the area of Shoqalak, across the border from Afghanistan’s Nimruz province.
The report said also that Taliban forces tried to raise the Taliban flag in an area that is not part of the territory of Afghanistan and that after the exchange, calm returned.
Geologist freed: A retired British geologist jailed in Iraq for antiquities smuggling has been freed and has left the country, his family said Sunday.
Jim Fitton, 66, was sentenced in June to 15 years in an Iraqi prison.
A Baghdad appeals court overturned the conviction and last week ordered his release.
Fitton has now been reunited with family in Malaysia, where he lives. Son-in-law Sam Tasker said Fitton arrived at Kuala Lumpur airport on Friday, and the family was “absolutely over the moon.” Fitton missed the wedding for his daughter Leila and Tasker in May while he was imprisoned.
Fitton was arrested in March at Baghdad Airport and charged under antiquities laws that carried the possibility of a death sentence.
His case drew international attention after he was convicted of picking up shards of pottery and other fragments from an ancient site in southern Iraq while on an organized geology and archaeology tour. Fitton told the court that he had no criminal intent, and some of the pieces he picked up from an unguarded site were no
larger than a fingernail.
Prince Charles questioned:
Britain’s Prince Charles is facing more questions over his charities after a newspaper reported that one of his funds accepted a $1.2 million donation from relatives of Osama bin Laden.
The Sunday Times reported that the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund received the money in 2013 from Bakr bin Laden, patriarch of the large and wealthy Saudi family, and his brother Shafiq. Both are half-brothers of the former al-Qaida leader, killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011.
The newspaper said advisers had urged the heir to the throne not to take the donation.
Charles’ Clarence House office disputed that but confirmed the donation was made. It said the decision to accept it was taken by the charity’s trustees, not the prince, and “thorough due diligence was undertaken in accepting this donation.”