At least one dead as Klamathon Fire tops 9,600 acres, remains state of emergency

The fast-moving Klamathon Fire raging through drought-stricken timber and brush near the California-Oregon border has killed one person and destroyed multiple structures as it burns largely out of control, authorities said Friday.

No other details were released about the death blamed on the fire that threatened 300 homes near Hornbook, an unincorporated town of 250 people about 10 miles south of the Oregon border. It's not clear if the flames, which are 5 percent contained, burned homes or other structures like barns.

Interstate 5, the largest north-south artery on the Pacific coast, was reopened around 7 a.m. Friday.

The 9,600-acre fire ignited Thursday afternoon and moved swiftly through the region that is home to many retirees, said Ray Haupt, chairman of the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.

"It moved so fast I'm not sure how much time lagged between the evacuation and when it hit Hornbrook," he told The Associated Press. "It hit there pretty quick. We know we've lost homes and lots of structures, including livestock and horses as well."

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife says the Iron Gate Fish Hatchery along the Klamath River, the Klamathon Road fishing access below the hatchery and the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area have been closed as a precaution.

On Thursday night, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency, citing "extreme peril" to people and property.

State resources, including employees, provisions and facilities, will be devoted to battling the fire, according to the governor's announcement. The California Office of Emergency Services will provide assistance to Siskiyou County officials as needed.

The declaration cited the circumstances of the fire – including high heat, wind and lack of humidity – to be "beyond the control of the services, personnel, equipment and facilities of any single local government and require the combined forces of a mutual aid or regions to combat."

Additionally, a Fire Management Assistance Grant from FEMA has been secured to assist in firefighting and relief efforts, according to a tweet from the California Office of Emergency Services. According to FEMA, the request for a grant is fulfilled when a "threat of major disaster" exists.

An evacuation shelter has been set up at the Jackson Street School in Yreka, Cal Fire said, and a large animal shelter was being set up at the Siskiyou County Fairgrounds. Across the border, Red Cross officials have set up a shelter at Ashland High School.

The Bee's Julia Sclafani and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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