News Wrap: Destructive Western wildfires force evacuations

In our news wrap Sunday, the McKinney Fire in northern California forces thousands to flee their homes, at least seven deaths in Oregon are suspected caused by excessive heat, the death toll from flooding in Kentucky rises to 26, Ukraine's president urges civilians to evacuate Donetsk amid fierce fighting with Russian forces, and NBA legend Bill Russell has died at the age of 88.

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  • Geoff Bennett:

    Good evening. It's good to be with you. And we begin tonight in the western U.S. as wildfires continue to threaten homes and forced evacuations across the Pacific Northwest. Along the border of California and Oregon, the night sky glowed red as the McKinney fire exploded from one square mile to more than 60 square miles since Friday.

    Thousands were forced to flee in the fire has claimed at least a dozen homes, prompting California Governor Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency.

    Wildfires also scorched dozens of square miles in Montana and Idaho. Each fire is only minimally contained and continue to be fueled by high winds and triple digit temperatures across the region.

    And these high temperatures have turned deadly in parts of the Pacific Northwest. Authority say at least seven people in Oregon are suspected to have died this week from heat related issues. The City of Portland will keep cooling shelters open through tonight as temperatures hit triple digits this week. Both Portland and Seattle are under excessive heat warnings this weekend.

    The death toll from flooding across Kentucky has risen to 26 and that number is expected to increase says Governor Andy Bashir. Today, rescue crews continued to struggle to get to hard hit areas. More than 1,200 people have been rescued by air or boat in nearly 20,000 homes remain without power. More rain is in the forecast this afternoon and evening.

    And in Ukraine fierce fighting with Russian forces continued today in the eastern city of Donetsk. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy used his televised address last night to implore civilians in the areas of Donetsk not under Russian control to make a difficult choice.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President (through translator):

    Many refuse to leave but it really needs to be done. This decision will still have to be made, believe me. And the sooner it is done, the more people leave the Donetsk region now the fewer people the Russian army will have time to kill.

  • Geoff Bennett:

    And in the southern port city of Mykolaiv, Russian strikes reduced buildings to ruins and at least two were killed and several others were wounded.

    And to passings of note tonight, Nichelle Nichols, the groundbreaking actress who played Lieutenant Uhura on the original Star Trek series has died. Her son in a Facebook post said she passed of natural causes. Nichols was among the first black women shown on TV in a position of authority when Star Trek debuted back in 1966. Nichelle Nichols was 89 years old.

    And former Boston Celtics star and NBA legend Bill Russell has died. We take a look now at his legacy in sports and beyond.

    A dominating defender of the rim Bill Russell was widely considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time.

    The six foot 10 center won championships and accolades virtually unmatched in all of professional sports, 11 championships more than any player in NBA history, as well as five MVPs and Olympic gold. Two of his championships came as a coach. He was the first black coach in American professional sports.

    As a player and a coaching pioneer, Russell was twice inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He was also one of the first athlete activists using the power of his fame and influence to spotlight other issues chief among them civil rights and equality for black Americans.

    In recognition of his contributions on and off the court, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011. Bill Russell was 88 years old.

    And still to come on "PBS News Weekend," a look at the complex history of abortion in early America and the Hidden History of civil rights photographer Ernest Withers.

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