California’s Dixie fire is among the state’s most destructive

More than 1,000 homes and businesses have been obliterated by the flames and more than 500,000 acres.


National News

August 12, 2021 - 10:33 AM

The sign for Main Street survived the Dixie fire on on Aug. 8, 2021, in Greenville, California. (Maranie R. Staab/Getty Images/TNS)

The second-largest wildfire in California history now also ranks among the state’s most destructive.

Since igniting in Northern California nearly a month ago, the Dixie fire has leveled the Gold Rush town of Greenville and grown to more than 500,000 acres, destroying at least 1,045 structures in its fiery wake, according to fire officials.

More than 550 structures consumed by the blaze were homes, with the majority being “single residences,” according to the latest incident report.

The blaze — which has scorched Plumas, Lassen, Butte and Tehama counties — is now the 15th most destructive in California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

And the threat is far from over, as the fire continues to grow in several directions across rugged terrain. It was 30% contained on Wednesday.

Amanda Peri, an inspector with Cal Fire Shasta Trinity Unit, searches through debris to determine what material the roofs of homes that burned down were made from in the town of Greenville, California, as a result of the Dixie fire, on Aug. 8, 2021. (Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

More than 16,000 additional structures are still endangered by the Dixie fire, and firefighters are on high alert in vulnerable communities.

Roughly 32% of the population of Plumas County is under an evacuation order, according to Carly Cabrera, a spokesperson with the county Sheriff’s Office.

“We don’t want another Greenville,” said Edwin Zuniga, a Dixie fire spokesperson with Cal Fire. The town of roughly 1,000 people was reduced to rubble when flames tore through it last Wednesday.

Images of the small town’s destruction shocked the nation.

It’s estimated that 524 structures were destroyed in Greenville alone — including 472 homes and 52 businesses, Cabrera said, citing figures from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

A week later, personnel were positioned to defend the communities of Westwood and the northern part of the Lake Almanor Peninsula — where the fire is burning just to the north, Zuniga said.

Firefighters are also working to protect Chester, where crews have so far been able to able to stave off flames, according to Zuniga.

The blaze reached the outskirts of Chester, burning outbuildings and other structures, and has caused some damage within the town, he said.

Smoke plumes rises from Kwis Fire on the hills south of Oakridge, top, as another bank of smoke hangs in the Salmon Creek drainage below sat sunset Tuesday night.

Firefighters patrol populated areas and attempt to squash fire activity wherever it crops up — like when a rogue ember lands on a roof and ignites, Zuniga said.

He said they also put contingency lines around the communities to keep fire at bay.

“We don’t want any more structures to be destroyed,” he said. “We don’t want more people to be displaced by this fire.”

Lassen County has sustained far less damage relative to neighboring Plumas, but the fire recently forced the evacuation of about 2,000 people across three small communities near the county line, including Westwood, according to Lt. Dave Woginrich, with the county Sheriff’s Office.