September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Hundreds of firefighters join battle against Dixie Fire as hot weather returns

Wildfire Watch

PLUMAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL/AP) — The Dixie Fire was 59% contained Tuesday morning as firefighters face hotter temperatures and dry fuels across what Cal Fire says is the “steep and rugged terrain in the wilderness of Lassen National Volcanic Park.”

More than 4,600 fire personnel are battling California’s largest recorded single wildfire in history, which started July 13. As of Tuesday morning, it’s burned 917,579 acres — over 1,400 square miles. Cal Fire said crews gained an additional 500 firefighters Monday to help in the fight.

917,579Acres Burned
5,958Structures Threatened
1,282 (696 Residences)Structures Destroyed
Sept. 7, 7 a.m. Cal Fire Numbers

Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said that only twice in California history have blazes burned from one side of the Sierra Nevada to the other, both this month, with the Caldor and Dixie fires. 

Marcus Pacheco, an assistant fire engine operator for Lassen National Forest with 30 years of experience, died on Thursday from an unidentified illness. He was assigned to the Dixie Fire burning north of the Caldor Fire, authorities said.

Click or tap here to see the current fire perimeter.

The U.S. Forest Service announced it will temporarily close all California national forests through Sept. 17 to limit the chances of new fires igniting. 

Nearly 6,000 structures remain threatened by the Dixie Fire, Cal Fire reported. At least 1,282 structures have been destroyed, including 696 single and multi-family homes. Ninety-two structures have been damaged.

The numbers reflected may change as crews make progress through the area. Officials are updating a map indicating the current known status of structures. Click here to view the map.

For the latest Cal Fire report and evacuation orders, click or tap here.

In the Dixie Fire’s West Zone, Cal Fire reported crews are going to work on fire barriers south of Old Station, with help from containment lines created back in 2012 amid the Reading Fire. They’ll also keep their attention on Highway 44 and any hotspots that jump the roadway and head toward the northeast.

Cal Fire said the fire is still active in the east and southeast areas, and midday winds will only make the firefight more difficult. Monday evening, a spot fire was seen toward the east across Highway 395, south of Milford, and crews from the west helped to stop the flames.

Helicopters are dropping water on the flames in the Devil’s Punchbowl, south of Taylorsville.

Three firefighters and a fire captain were hospitalized Aug. 7 after a weakened tree fell and struck them, a San Diego County Cal Fire crew reported

The Dixfire Fire reduced downtown Greenville to rubble in early August.

While Greenville has been repopulated, Plumas County leaders are still getting calls from residents in nearby communities wondering if it’s safe to return home.

“‘When can we come back and see what’s happened, when are the mandatory evacuations going to get lifted?’ I get those phone calls all the time, every day,” said Plumas County District 2 Supervisor Kevin Goss.

The supervisor is joining his community in hoping the town can rebuild through fundraisers and low-interest loans.

Plumas County officials are working with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to find a temporary housing community for the displaced. They hope to have a temporary firehouse in Greenville by Oct. 1.

As of Tuesday morning, 646 Plumas County residents and 400 Lassen County residents are still under evacuation orders.

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 location has been listed as evacuation centers:

  • Holy Family Catholic Church at 108 Taylor Avenue in Portola, CA in Plumas County
  • Sparks Convention Center Hall #5 at 4590 South Virginia Street in Reno, NV

Residents in need of help can also contact American Red Cross at 855-755-7711.

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

As some evacuation orders are reduced to warnings, returning residents to stay vigilant, Cal Fire warned. Smoke may be coming from trees and stumps in the coming days, but residents should call 911 if they grow concerned about active flames.

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.

Officials also advise motorists to call 1-800-427-7623 for highway information.

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 be linked to both fires.

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

Following a request from California leaders, President Joe Biden declared that a major disaster exists in California and ordered federal aid made available to local governments, agencies and fire victims in Lassen, Nevada, Placer and Plumas counties.

Click or tap here for additional information.

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