September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Dixie Fire surpasses 500K acres, destroys over 550 homes

Wildfire Watch

Cal OES and other state officials will hold a press conference at 3:45 p.m.

PLUMAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL/AP) — Fire crews continue to battle the Dixie Fire, 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 fire, burning northeast of Paradise, which started July 13. As of Wednesday morning, it’s burned 501,008 acres across Plumas, Butte, Tehama and Lassen counties and is 30% contained.

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

Some of the top officials who respond to California’s emergencies toured Greenville Wednesday after the fire raged through the northern Sierra Nevada town last week. They held a brief press conference later in the day.

“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 said. At least 1,045 structures have been destroyed, including 557 homes. Sixty-nine structures have been damaged.

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

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 this satellite image provided by Maxar Technologies shows from left, overview of Greenville, Calif., before the wildfires on Oct. 31, 2018 and overview of Greenville, during the Dixie Wildfires on Monday, Aug. 9, 2021. California’s largest single wildfire in recorded history is running through forestlands as fire crews try to protect rural communities from flames that have destroyed hundreds of homes. (Satellite image ©2021 Maxar Technologies via AP)

In the Dixie Fire West Zone, heavy smoke reduced visibility Tuesday, Cal Fire said. High pressure continues to build over the area and will be the dominant feature with thunderstorms predicted later this week.

Minimal humidity recovery allowed the fire to remain active overnight into Wednesday.

Cal Fire said crews completed securing the perimeter at Silver Lake and the Rush Creek Tuesday.

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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