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California Forest Service employee killed in McKinney Fire

A veteran U.S. Forest Service employee is the first publicly identified victim of the northern California McKinney Fire. 

Long-time Klamath National Forest Lookout Kathy Shoopman was remembered by firefighters on Monday. 

“It is with great sadness that we must announce that the Klamath National Forest has lost one of its own,” the agency said on Facebook. “Kathy died in her home in the community of Klamath River as a result of the McKinney Fire.”

Forest Service spokesperson Tom Stokesberry told the Sacramento Bee on Monday that she died at her home on the day the McKinney Fire erupted, but officials did not say exactly how she died.

Shoopman, 73, started her career as a lookout at Baldy Mountain Lookout in 1974. Since then, she staffed Lake Mountain Lookout and most recently staffed Buckhorn Lookout, a post she held since 1993. 

She lived in the community of Klamath River for nearly five decades. 

“We share this sorrow with each and every one of you and we know that individually, and as the supportive community that we are, we will find many ways to honor Kathy’s life and service and keep her spirit in all of our lives,” the Forest Service said.

The McKinney Fire has spread over more than 60,000 acres in California and is 55% contained. 

Kathy Shoopman died at her home on the day the McKinney Fire erupted.
McKinney Fire
Shoopman started working as a lookout at Baldy Mountain Lookout in 1974.
AP/Noah Berger
McKinney Fire
The McKinney Fire has spread over more than 60,000 acres in California.
AP/Noah Berger

The Karuk Tribe said Saturday that the fire appears to have caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Klamath River fish.

The blaze, burning west of Yreka, has killed four people. The other three have yet to be publicly identified.

Crews continue to search the area for other possible victims. 

The McKinney Fire
The victim lived in Klamath River community for nearly five decades. 
AFP via Getty Images
McKinney Fire
Authorities investigate the burned down area.
AP/Noah Berger
McKinney Fire
A chimney stands at a home destroyed by the McKinney Fire on Aug. 2.
AP/Noah Berger

The wildfire wiped out the Klamath River hamlet, reducing most of the homes and businesses there to ash.

Firefighters have also had to deal with sweltering conditions and fire managers said that three people had been treated for heat-related illnesses on Sunday.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 11,500 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to incidents nationwide.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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