Monday, October 3, 2022

Crews dig to save communities from raging Dixie Fire

On Thursday night firefighters were digging to protect communities from the volatile Dixie Fire, which has already destroyed at least one town in Plumas County.

Mike Wink, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion, said the crew was battling a spot fire in West Almanor, where at least two structures and a garage were reported to be destroyed. The crew was also gearing up to counter the flames being pushed east by winds towards the Almanor Peninsula and Westwood Lake.

“We’ve experienced some of the very extreme conditions that firefighters have experienced over the past 48 hours,” Wink told a virtual news conference Thursday night. “We’ve had some success. There are a lot of challenges out there.”

Cal Fire Operations Section Chief Kyle Jacobson said the fire was also active at Crescent Mills.

As of Thursday night, the Dixie Fire covered 361,812 acres and was only 35 percent contained. There were no casualties, but at least 50 structures were damaged or destroyed.

That figure is likely to rise after a fire broke out in Greenville on Wednesday night.

An official damage assessment is still far away, but Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns, a lifelong resident of Greenville, said there were more than 100 homes in the city.

“My heart is crushed by what has happened there,” Johns said at the same news conference, “and for those who have lost housing and businesses—I’ve already met some of them—their lives are now.” Forever has changed and all I can tell you is I’m sorry.”

Johns said four residents had not been traced as of Thursday night, down from 10 the day before. He urged residents to heed all evacuation warnings and orders.

“As I’ve said many times by now,” said Johns, “just because an area is under alert doesn’t mean you can go about your business casually. It means you have to prepare. and be ready to proceed at a moment’s notice.”

Wink, chief of the Cal Fire Battalion, said the city of Chester was spared Thursday when the fire burned around but not through it, underscoring the unpredictable nature of the wildfire. He said the flames reached the Lassen National Forest.

About 14,000 structures remain at risk, Cal Fire said in an incident update Thursday night.

Jacobson, chief of Cal Fire Operations Section, said control lines on the southern border of the fire were holding up. There was no development there, giving some relief to the communities of Conco and Magalia, which were badly hit by the Camp Fire in 2018.

A cocktail of high winds and dry vegetation fueled the rapid growth of the Dixie Fire this week. But by Thursday night the red flag warning conditions were expected to subside by Friday, an event meteorologist Ryan Walbrunn said. Smoke from wildfires, as well as others burning in northern California, is expected to settle in the region, bringing cooler temperatures and higher humidity.

Nation World News Desk
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