Evacuation warnings issued as wildfire burns northeast of Paradise

Local News

BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Cal Fire is working hard to control a fire that started Tuesday night along the burn scar of the disastrous 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County.

The Dixie Fire is burning primarily in Plumas County. A plume of smoke could be seen from miles away as firefighters struggled to get to the remote blaze northeast of Paradise. 

By Wednesday night, Cal Fire said the fire had burned 2,200 acres and was 0% contained. 

“Because of the access issues yesterday when this fire started, the priority was with our air attack, meaning water drops and tanker drops to really stop the spread,” said Cal Fire Capt. John Gaddie.

The aerial assault continued Wednesday after the fire crested a ridge into the Feather River Canyon. 

But it was delayed for a time both Tuesday and Wednesday when civilian drones were detected in the area. 

“So that hindered that suppression or that slowing of that fire down a little bit,” Capt. Gaddie explained. “So please do not come into the area, whether you’re driving into the area or think you can fly a drone into the area, because we’re going to have to stop our suppression efforts.” 

Satellite imagery of smoke from the Dixie Fire (Courtesy: Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere/Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch)

Access to the flames has been such a problem that narrow roads into the fire area have been closed to all but fire personnel. 

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office has given evacuation warnings to the rural areas of Pulga and east Concow, which only consist of 10 people.

Cal Fire was trying to reassure area residents that the fire was blowing to the northeast, away from population centers, but the reminder of the deadly Camp Fire still had some residents spooked. 

“I lost everything,” said Yankee Hill resident Desmond David.

David kept a close eye on the direction of the Dixie Fire.

“You feel the breeze right now, it’s going toward the northeast. So… I’m OK,” he told FOX40.  

That’s not to say property isn’t in danger. There was a concerted effort to protect major power lines along the Feather River. A spokesperson with Pacific Gas and Electric said several transmission lines have been de-energized as a precautionary measure, affecting roughly 10,000 customers in Plumas County.

The Union Pacific Rail Line and Highway 70 also border the fire. 

And there are plenty of fuels in the rural area to feed the flames.

“We had extreme heat this past week, so these fuels are very dry, they’re very susceptible to burning,” Gaddie said.

Cal Fire officials said they want to get a handle on the fire before it gets into more populated areas. There could be as many as a thousand firefighters flooding into the area in the next few days.

This story is developing. Check back for updates.

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