The Latest – Thursday, July 29:
The Dixie Fire has burned 226,421 acres and remains at 23% containment.
Original story below:
BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — Nearly 6,000 fire personnel continue to battle the erratic Dixie Fire in Butte County, which sent smoke into the Sacramento Valley Wednesday.
The Dixie Fire, burning northeast of Paradise, started July 13. As of Thursday morning, it’s burned 221,504 acres and remains 23% contained.
More than 10,000 structures are threatened by the fire, Cal Fire reported. Forty-two structures have been destroyed, 22 minor structures have been destroyed and eight structures have been damaged.
Over the weekend, the Dixie Fire merged with the nearby Fly Fire, which started last Thursday. It’s moved up the list of California’s biggest wildfires to become the 13th largest in the state’s history.
Pacific Gas & Electric has reported to California utility regulators that its equipment may have been involved in the Dixie Fire’s start.
PG&E equipment has repeatedly been linked to major wildfires, including the Camp Fire that ravaged the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.
The Dixie Fire’s erratic behavior has fire crews concerned. Cal Fire said spot fires remain the greatest threat.
Hot and dry conditions are expected to increase fire activity Thursday, Cal Fire said. Air operations will continue in areas clear of smoke.
Cal Fire said Sunday the highly active fire continues to put off heavy smoke, at times, making the firefight difficult from the air.
Crews have had to battle the blaze mostly from the air due to difficult terrain, and narrow roads into the fire area have been closed to all but fire personnel.
In some places where firefighters are not able to access the flames by road, they’re using Union Pacific engines, with water tanks in the front and back. The engines travel the tracks on the west side of the Feather River, which also provides a convenient water source for helicopters.
Because evacuation orders and warnings are changing frequently, Cal Fire is directing residents to the social media pages of local law enforcement and forest management.
Residents can sign up for their county’s CodeRed emergency alert system for evacuation information using the links below:
Officials shared an evacuation map, with areas in red representing mandatory evacuations and the yellow areas being evacuation warning zones.
All highway closures are being reported by Caltrans on its website.
People traveling in the area should follow egress route directions in the evacuation notification because GPS can lead drivers to hazardous areas, Cal Fire warned.
The following locations have been listed as evacuation centers:
- Veterans Memorial Hall at 225 Gay Street in Chester, CA in Pumas County
- Springs of Hope Church at 59 Bell Lane in Quincy, CA in Plumas County
- Lassen Community College at 478-200 in Susanville, CA in Butte County
In Butte County, fire evacuee Robert Kirk relived his effort to save his neighbors home in Belden Town.
“We had chunks of debris flying through the town hitting the ground, sparks everywhere,” Kirk said. “We didn’t save anybody’s home. They all burned down.”
FOX40 spoke to another family Monday that learned via social media that their home had burned down.
“We were all really hopeful and then the next morning, I woke up and hit refresh and there was the picture of our home,” Tesla Barbino said.
Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency for Plumas, Butte, Lassen and Alpine counties because of wildfires that he said were causing “conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property.” The proclamation opened the way for more state support.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.