Dixie Fire burns over 30K acres, remains at 15% contained

Wildfire Watch

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

The Dixie Fire, burning northeast of Paradise, started July 13. By Monday morning, Cal Fire said the fire had burned 30,074 acres and was 15% contained. The fire grew more than 11,000 acres since the last update on Sunday.

Pacific Gas & Electric has reported to California utility regulators that its equipment may have been involved in the fire’s start.

The utility said in a filing Sunday that a repair man responding to a circuit outage on July 13 spotted blown fuses in a conductor atop a pole, a tree leaning into the conductor and fire at the base of the tree.

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

A Google Earth Studio visualization of the Dixie Fire on July 19. (Courtesy: CEDR Digital Corps)

More than 800 structures are threatened by the fire, which is bordered by the Union Pacific Rail Line and Highway 70.

Between Sunday and Monday, the Dixie Fire moved east and north, Cal Fire said.

“Steep and inaccessible terrain are making containment difficult,” Cal Fire reported.

Crews have had to battle the blaze mostly from the air due to difficult terrain. The effort was delayed for a time when civilian drones were detected in the area.

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.

Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service posted video of what they said was a pyrocumulonimbus cloud over the fire. NASA has called the latter the “fire-breathing dragon of clouds” because they are so hot and big that they create their own weather.

Camp Creek Road and Highway 70 at the north junction, with Highway 89 Greenville Wye are closed in Plumas County, officials said. In Butte County, Highway 70 is closed from 14.3 miles east of the junction of Highway 191. 

Cal Fire is directing residents to their county’s CodeRed emergency alert system for evacuation information:

Evacuation orders in Plumas County include: the High Lakes recreational area east of Butte-Plumas county line, Butte-Plumas County Line east to Twain on both sides of Highway 70, Meadow Valley and Bucks Lake, Caribou Road north to the Humbug and Humboldt roads intersection, Prattville Butt Reservoir Road to the Butte-Plumas County Line, and the community of Seneca south to Highway 70.

Jonesville and Philbrook are under evacuation order in Butte County. 

Butte Meadows and Inskip areas remain under an evacuation warning.

The following locations have been listed as evacuation centers:

  • Quincy High School, 6 Quincy Junction Road in Plumas County
  • Church of the Nazarene, 2238 Monte Vista Avenue in Butte County

Click or tap here for additional information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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