Evacuation shelters open in two states for McKinney Fire

WEED, CA.–Two evacuation shelters are opening in response to the McKinney Fire.

The main shelter is at the Weed Community Center in Weed with a backup shelter opening in Ashland.

Siskiyou County Emergency Services said evacuation efforts have gone smoothly so far with around 80 residents currently at the shelter in Weed.

A Red Cross volunteer said the shelter in Ashland had around 24 people as of Sunday night, most were from the pacific crest trail.

Barbara Lepper, who was at the Red Cross shelter in Weed said, “I hope I have a home when it’s all over.”

She is a longtime Siskiyou County resident.

She lost her home in Happy Camp during the Slater Fire in September 2020.

This weekend she evacuated her new home in Yreka because of the McKinney Fire.

“I didn’t have anything of value this time except our lives,” she said.

Lepper is one of dozens staying at the Weed shelter.

Harlene Schwander already lost her home.

“Everything I had for four generations is up in smoke, everything,” she said.

Schwander said she left her home with just her dogs and the clothes on her back.

She said her daughter-in-law and her son live next door and they were able to defend their home from the fire.

She plans on staying with them if their house survives the fire.

“I’m just trying to stay positive and not think about everything I’ve had since I was a child,” she said, “It’s hard.”

An hour north, at the backup shelter at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ashland, most of the people here are hikers from the Pacific Crest Trail.

It’s closed in various areas both north and south of the state line.

But hiker Ricochet hopes to get back on the trail as soon as possible.

“I plan on also skipping the fire closure and finishing the trip up to Canada,” he said, “and hopefully when the fires are taken care of, come back and finishing the part that was closed.”

Ricochet said it was scary to see the smoke and have to leave the trail but the shelter put him at ease.

Fellow hiker Pretzel said she’s thankful for the support the shelter has given her.

“It’s really comforting and welcoming and I guess what we call ‘trail magic’ for hikers,” she said.

If you’re interested in volunteering to help evacuees, please reach out to the Red Cross, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Ashland.

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NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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