BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) – Looking northeast from Lake Oroville, a smoke plume in the distance towers over the Feather River Canyon.
What FOX40 crews found in the shadow of that plume is a sobering example of how easily flames are able to decimate a forest that looked lush and green just days ago. Red retardant decorated the landscape and gave testimony to how hard firefighters have tried to suppress the Dixie Fire.
But the drought-stressed trees and the wind whipping through the canyon along Highway 70 are formidable opponents.
The fire is pushing northeast toward Lake Almanor, an area added to Wednesday’s mandatory evacuation orders, and is burning on both sides of Highway 70.
But the most active flames are moving away from the highway itself, into remote areas that are hard to access. Most talk about the Feather River Canyon as being sparsely populated, but people do live there and many more vacation.
Some resort getaways, like Belden Town Resort and Lodge, sit well within the evacuation zone.
Mop-up crews and PG&E have their work cut out for them along the Dixie Fire’s path.
FOX40 cameras saw several downed power lines near Belden. Off Caribou Road, over the north fork of the Feather River, the remains of a burned bridge are barely holding together as they continue to smolder.
A burned fire hose left behind alongside the bridge suggests the flames moved through there so quickly firefighters may have had to make a hasty retreat. A few yards away, a wooden bridge outfitted with sprinklers is left standing.
In their ongoing race against nature, firefighting aircraft took advantage of every last available minute of daylight. It was just before 8:30 p.m. when FOX40 crews saw a helicopter filling up for what would be its last water drop in daylight.