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DNA, dental records identify 4 killed by California wildfire

Western Wildfires
Posted at 11:41 AM, Aug 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-20 14:41:48-04

KLAMATH RIVER, Calif. (AP) — Authorities have identified four people killed last month when California's largest and deadliest wildfire of the year swept through a remote hamlet.

DNA and dental analysis were used to identify the Klamath River residents, the Siskyou County Sheriff's Office tweeted Friday.

They were Kathleen Shoopman, 73; Charles Kays, 79; Judith Kays, 82 and John Cogan, 76.

The U.S. Forest Service previously had announced that Shoopman, a longtime employee, had died at her home when the McKinney Fire started on July 29 near the state line in Oregon. She worked for decades at lookout stations, scanning the landscape for wildfires.

Authorities had said two bodies were found inside a charred vehicle in the driveway of a home and the other two at separate residences.

The McKinney Fire began in the Klamath National Forest and exploded in size when a thunderstorm created winds up to 50 mph. It reduced much of Klamath River, a scenic community of about 200 people, to ash. As of Friday, the blaze had burned more than 94 square miles (244 square kilometers) but was 95% contained and hadn't grown.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Scientists have said climate change has made the West warmer and drier over the last three decades and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. Across the American West, a 22-year megadrought deepened so much in 2021 that the region is now in the driest spell in at least 1,200 years.