Parts of Dixie Fire pick up in new direction as conditions worsen

Wildfire Watch

The Latest – Thursday, Aug. 12:

10 p.m.

FOX40’s Kristina Werner reports that parts of the Dixie Fire have picked up as conditions changed in the Sierra. Moisture in the area has affected the direction of winds. The fire, as of Thursday night, has been pushed into the north and the west.

Original Story Below:

PLUMAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL/AP) — Fire crews continue to battle California’s largest single wildfire in recorded history, which has been burning for nearly a month.

More than 6,000 fire personnel continue to battle the Dixie Fire, burning northeast of Paradise, which started July 13. As of Thursday morning, it’s burned 510,227 acres across Plumas, Butte, Tehama and Lassen counties and remains 30% contained.

It has since moved up the list of California’s biggest wildfires to become the 2nd largest in the state’s history.

Officials with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services held a press briefing Wednesday after touring Greenville, the northern Sierra Nevada town destroyed by the fire last week. 

“If there’s even a blade of grass near you, that is enough to start a fire these days. It is so dry,” said Cal Fire Director Thom Porter. “And the way we’ve seen this burn through live timber in the tens of thousands of acres an hour is unlike anything we’ve seen, other than a few times. And those few times, most of them have been within the last year or two years.”

Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents the district impacted by the Dixie and River fires, issued a tearful promise to his constituents following the devastation in Greenville.

But we lost Greenville tonight, and there’s just not words for how us in the government haven’t been able to get the job done. We’ll take up the fight even harder and more so. We got to … stop this. We got to get D.C. to pay attention, we got to get Sacramento to pay attention. Forget the politics, forget the nonsense, we have to stop making this happen by inattention to what is obvious.

Nearly 15,000 structures remain threatened by the fire, Cal Fire reported. At least 1,109 structures have been destroyed, including 584 homes. Seventy-two structures have been damaged.

Officials said the number reflected may change as crews make progress through the area.

“My heart is crushed by what has occurred there,” said Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns, a lifelong Greenville resident.

Wednesday, FOX40 spoke to a couple whose home was still standing after flames came dangerously close to their property along Keddie Ridge. 

“Figured we’d come back this morning. I didn’t think it’d be here. I really didn’t,” Van Probst said.

Tuesday, FOX40 spoke with Cody Pearce, a man from Taylorsville who said he’s sick of watching his community burn. 

“I’ll go to where the houses are and anywhere I can get into,” Pearce explained. “And I use my side spray on the truck and I spray down as much as I can. I’ll spray the house down, the yard down, trees down.”

Three firefighters were taken to the hospital Friday after being struck by a fallen branch. More than 30 people were initially reported missing, but by Monday the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office had accounted for all of them.

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 also sign up for their county’s CodeRed emergency alert system for evacuation information using the links below.

The following locations have been listed as evacuation centers:

  • Springs of Hope Church at 59 Bell Lane in Quincy, CA in Plumas County
  • Lassen Community College at 78-200 CA-139 in Susanville, CA in Lassen County
  • Lassen High School at 1110 Main Street in Susanville, CA in Lassen County
  • Holy Family Catholic Church at 108 Taylor Avenue in Portola, CA in Plumas County

For online resources and the latest information on evacuation orders, click or tap here.

Crews have had to battle the blaze mostly from the air due to difficult terrain.

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.

Smokey conditions limited visibility in some areas on Monday.

In the Dixie Fire West Zone, windy conditions will remain in the area, Cal Fire said. High pressure will build in the area, and thunderstorms are predicted.

Crews are working to expand containment in the fire’s East Zone as it continues to back down at Keddie Ridge. Cal Fire said crews worked to reduce the threat to structures in Indian Valley and along Keddie Ridge on Wednesday. Crews were forced to pull out of the Wilcox Valley area due to fire intensity.

Officials shared an evacuation map, with areas in red representing mandatory evacuations and the yellow areas being evacuation warning zones.

Lassen National Forest and Plumas National Forest officials have also issued closures.

Road and 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 Dixie Fire merged with the nearby Fly Fire, which started July 22. Pacific Gas & Electric has reported to California utility regulators that its equipment may have been involved in the start of both fires.

PG&E equipment has repeatedly been linked to major wildfires, including the Camp Fire that ravaged the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

Click or tap here for additional information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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