More than three weeks after it ignited in a distant canyon, the monster Dixie’s fire continued to break records on Friday, jumping over Oregon’s bootleg fire and becoming the largest burn in the United States. It was the third largest in California’s history.
As the effects of climate change are felt more intense around the world, this peculiar flame rages in four counties, Butte, Lassen, Pramas and Tehama, burning 679 square miles, a much larger area than the city of Los Angeles. I did.
Extreme droughts, dry vegetation, and gusts caused even veteran firefighters to burn faster and behave erratically than ever before.
After destroying the Sierra Nevada mountain town of Greenville, the fire continued to spread on Thursday, setting off spot fires and burning as the small community of Canyondam increased by 110,000 acres. Rick Carhartt, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire, said this was more than double the 50,000 acres that expanded the day before.
“In the middle of a fire, every time the embers found the grass and landed, it was almost certain that it would ignite and cause another fire,” he said.
Firefighters worked on Friday to protect homes around Lake Armana. There the fire reached the west coast, but they hadn’t burned to the peninsula yet, they said.
So far, no deaths from the Dixie fire have been reported, but some residents are at risk of alerting authorities. Law enforcement agencies have issued evacuation orders to thousands of residents whose communities have been besieged, but some have chosen to keep up and raise more challenges.
Plumas County supervisor Greg Hugwood said evacuation was tense as fires struck and threatened small mountain towns, including Greenville, in the last 72 hours. In some cases, residents met law enforcement agencies with weapons.
“They met people with guns and [are] “Get off my property, and you’re not telling me to leave,” he said.
In response to those who categorically refused to evacuate, he said he would notify someone if the holdout died because his agent was seeking information on his close relatives.
On Wednesday, authorities were forced to set up a temporary shelter at a high school baseball stadium for those who had to flee or be rescued after choosing to stay in Chester. Officials said some firefighters had to stop hitting the flames to get people there.
Captain Mitch Matrow, a spokesman for Dixie Fire, said such a project would be costly.
“This could lead to fires in areas that might not have been extinguished otherwise, endangering the lives of firefighters and the inhabitants they are moving to protect.” He said.
On Thursday, authorities arrested three remaining people in the evacuation zone of the town of Lassen County in Westwood. Lisa Bernard, a spokesman for the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office, was all three in prison, quoted, and released.
“When we ask people to leave the house, we have a duty to protect their property very seriously,” Bernard wrote in an email. She said that those behind him had to evacuate into the house and those walking around the street were at risk of being arrested.
Mr Hugwood said he was a former sheriff in Plumas County and a resident of its historic center, Quincy, on both sides of the evacuation orders, issuing them and being subject to them.
A few years ago, during the Minerva fire, he was forced to issue an order to cover his home and his parents’ home. Hugwood said the emotional strength of evacuation against law enforcement and residents cannot be overestimated, especially in rural areas where everyone seems to know each other.
“You’re talking about people’s homes, their property, everything they’ve worked for for a lifetime, and sometimes for generations,” Hugwood said. “If governments come in, local, state, or federal, and tell them they have to leave, they will face some backlash.
“If you’re in a metropolitan area, you’re influencing people you’ve never met, making decisions you’ll never see,” he added. “Here you will see them in the grocery store. You will stand next to them at future children’s athletic events.”
Donguez of Crescent Mills chose not to evacuate because he was fed up with it — it was the third time he was asked to leave during this fire.
For the first time, he went to his father’s house near Lake Armana. He was also told to evacuate from there.
This time he stayed every two hours because he had to fill the generator with gas to keep the sprinkler at home.
But on Friday, he planned to join his wife, who was already in Quincy, after he was convinced that the firefighters would be placed in a place that would allow him to protect his home. ..
“It’s crazy,” Guess said when he bought Bratwurst from Gigi’s market. It remained open to provide a stable stream of paramedics who would eat whatever the owner could make. “Once you get something to eat, you’re ready to go.”
Firefighters wanted a weather break to help them gain an edge, with more stable and humid conditions next week or so with a tap.
Still, fire containment had dropped to 21% by Friday night, leaving more than 13,800 structures threatened. Downwind on Friday, the community, including most of Lake Tahoe, was polluted with smoke.
The Dixie fire ignited on July 13 near the Pacific Gas and Electric Power Plant in Feather River Canyon. PG & E states that the facility could be the cause, launching another fire nine days later and eventually merging with the Dixie fire.
A full storm of conditions caused a rapid spread of fire, officials say.
“It’s all the same,” Matrow said Thursday. “It’s heat. It’s dry fuel. It’s drought. It’s the wind I saw yesterday. It’s a slope.”
Firefighters initially challenged rugged remote areas. Some places were so steep that I couldn’t get the engine close enough to bring in the hose.
The fire then moved to an area with heavy timber and no history of recent burns. There, the undergrowth acted as so-called ladder fuel, allowing flames to rise to the crown of the tree.
“It’s also where you get very extreme fire growth, because those trees find it before themselves,” Carhartt said.
The fire grew for about three weeks, and in the worsening weather conditions with winds reaching 40 mph, he encountered an island of unburned fuel around him that threw embers over a containment line set up by firefighters. Carhartt said. He said it started running to Lake Armana, Greenville and Chester.
By that time, it had sent out a huge plume of smoke and ash that produced its own weather pattern, so its huge size made it uncontrollable.
“The fire was so big that it was then built on its own,” Carhartt said.
When firefighters scrambled to make progress on the giant, some residents were allowed to return to the ruins of their community.
Kevin Goth, owner of a pharmacy in Greenville and supervisor of Plumas County, has had the first opportunity to assess the damage to his hometown since he evacuated on Friday.
At the first road checkpoint, Goss met a state soldier who worked while his own home in Corfax was ordered to evacuate.
Further up the road, where he had to move behind the pilot vehicle because the retaining wall of the bridge was still burning, he came across County Sheriff Todd Johns, who had come down from the mountain.
Both men have been friends for years, and although they were stoic, they were stunned by the losses they witnessed.
Goss soon came across another best friend, a state police officer whose house lay in ashes less than 0.5 miles from where he worked.
The men exchanged news about where the fire was heading and relentlessly approaching Goth’s house deep in the valley.
Goss turned the back road leading to Greenville to check his friend’s house.
At each site, the house where he gathered with friends and family was nothing more than a pile of molten steel and ruins.
The fire burned the Hideaway Motel and Lodge, which parents owned when they first moved here in the 1970s, to a huge stone fireplace.
Goss said it was a good place to grow, remembering that the entire town had snowed on snowmobiles to celebrate the holidays on New Year’s Day at the age of five.
Further down, there were some signs that not everything was on fire. The brown-sided house owned by his former brother-in-law was intact, and its satellite dish was still facing the sky.
Nearby, two chickens poking crab apples that fell from a tree and a deer that survived the flames roamed the garden where the sprinkler kept the grass green.
The road was full of smoke, so I needed headlights during the day. Slowly, Goss was approaching what he really wanted to see: the oldest building in the town built in 1860. His pharmacy.
There was almost no shock on his face when the property was finally visible.
There is nothing left.
At the rear end of the building was a twisted plastic pile with the remains of an old child’s fire engine. It was a toy he played as a kid, its metal hull is now black and its red paint has disappeared.
Standing by the ruins, Goth could only find humor in the ashes of Dixie’s fire.
“I didn’t even know there were bricks in some of these walls,” he said, looking at those debris in the rubble. “That’s interesting.”
This story was originally Los Angeles Times..