September 24 2021 03:30 pm

‘This is not going to end anytime soon’: Dixie Fire burns over 1,000 square miles, destroys over 640 homes

Wildfire Watch

PLUMAS COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL/AP) — The Dixie Fire continues to threaten thousands of homes and prompt more evacuations as it burns across Plumas, Butte, Tehama and Lassen counties.

Nearly 6,000 fire personnel are battling California’s largest single wildfire in recorded history, which started July 13. As of Thursday morning, it’s burned 678,369 acres — over 1,059 square miles — and is 35% contained.

Click or tap here to see the current fire perimeter.

“The Dixie Fire is the first fire that we’re aware of that has burned from the west side of the mountain range all the way over into the valley floor on the east side of the mountain range,” Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter said Wednesday at a CalOES briefing. “We don’t have any record of that happening before.”

A red flag warning is in effect for Northern California until 11 a.m. Thursday. 

Late Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric said it has begun shutting off power to as many as 51,000 customers in 18 Northern California counties to prevent wildfires for the first time since last year’s historically bad fire season. By Wednesday night, the utility said power was restored to almost 55% of those customers.

“Essentially all” customers in the remaining eight counties impacted can expect their power to be restored Thursday evening.

The Dixie Fire merged with the nearby Fly Fire, which started July 22. PG&E 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 nearby town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

Over 16,000 structures remain threatened by the Dixie Fire, Cal Fire reported. At least 1,217 structures have been destroyed, including 649 homes. Ninety-six structures have been damaged.

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

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

Lower humidity recovery and sustained winds allowed the fire to burn actively in the West Zone, Cal Fire reported Thursday morning.

The fire near Janesville in the East Zone is growing rapidly, Cal Fire said. Additional West Zone resources have been shifted into Genesee Valley to help protect structures.

“Spot fires are always an issue,” said Brad Bihun, public information officer for California’s response to the Dixie Fire told FOX40 Friday. 

Press Democrat photojournalist Kent Porter captured video of what appears to be a fire tornado on Aug. 9 on Diamond Mountain Road in Plumas County.

Crews have had to battle the blaze mostly from the air due to difficult terrain. Firefighters are also using Union Pacific engines, with water tanks in the front and back, along the west side of the Feather River.

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.

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

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 fire captain remains at a care facility to receive “aggressive physical therapy.”

Of the four firefighters injured, two will need additional rehabilitation. The other two have been allowed to return to duty.

After successfully locating 46 unaccounted for individuals, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday crews continue to search for Ronald Avila of Greenville. Officials believe Avila may have left the area four years ago.

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
  • Holy Family Catholic Church at 108 Taylor Avenue in Portola, CA in Plumas County
  • Los Molinos Veterans Hall at 7980 Sherwood Boulevard in Los Molinos, CA, in Tehama County

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.

“This is not going to end anytime soon,” Porter said. “Everybody’s going to be sucking smoke for a long time.”

Click or tap here for additional information.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

State officials provided an update on California’s wildfires on Wednesday at the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Watch the full video below.

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