California’s Dixie Fire, fueled by ‘winds in all directions,’ now unstoppable monster

– Cal Fire: See incident reports from Cal Fire’s website.– Maps: View maps from the U.S. Forest Service.– Road closures: Get updates from Caltrans District 2’s Twitter feed.– Evacuations: Find the latest information from Cal Fire.– Dixie Fire information line: (530) 538-7826. LATEST Aug. 5, 8:37 p.m. The Dixie Fire […]

Cal Fire: See incident reports from Cal Fire’s website.
Maps: View maps from the U.S. Forest Service.
Road closures: Get updates from Caltrans District 2’s Twitter feed.
Evacuations: Find the latest information from Cal Fire.
Dixie Fire information line: (530) 538-7826.

LATEST Aug. 5, 8:37 p.m. The Dixie Fire burning in Butte and Plumas counties has expanded to 361,812 acres as of Thursday evening, according to an update from Cal Fire.

The update also said that containment stands at 35%.

Aug. 5, 7:15 p.m. Firefighters protected the town of Chester from severe damage Thursday evening, Mike Wink, operations section chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said at a 7 p.m. update. 

A few structures outside the town were damaged or destroyed and Wink said only one building within the town was damaged as of 7 p.m.

Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns said Thursday evening that his “heart is crushed” by the devastation in Greenville, a small California community with at least 100 homes that has been largely destroyed by the Dixie Fire. 

A lifelong resident of Greenville, Johns said at a press broadcast community meeting, “All I can tell you is, I’m sorry.”

He said there were no injuries reported in Greenville though there are four unaccounted for people. 

He also asked the public to give donations of new or lightly used clothing, pet supplies, bottled water, school supplies, gift cards and new toiletries to the Mormon Church for community collection. 

“The fire is not over,” he said in closing. “What am I telling folks at this time is that if the plume is anywhere near your direction, stay miles away from it.” 

Aug. 5, 4 p.m. Incident Commander Rocky Opliger and Plumas National Forest Supervisor Chris Carlton gave an update on the Dixie Fire Thursday afternoon.

Opliger said on Wednesday when the fire raced toward the community of Greenville, emergency responders, both firefighters and law enforcement, did an incredible job rescuing community members who did not leave.

“They spent a big part of their time just doing those rescues as the fire came in there with significant velocity,” Opliger said.

Aug. 5, 2:30 p.m. There were no signs of California’s Dixie Fire slowing down Thursday amid gusty winds and bone-dry conditions. 

“It has the potential for getting bad before getting better,” said Mitch Matlow, a spokesperson with the multiagency team managing the fire.

The fire is the largest in the state this year and the sixth-largest ever in the state, tearing through more than 322,000 acres and ravaging multiple communities including the historic mining town of Greenville.

The fire was most active Thursday on its north and east edge, and fire activity is expected to pick up through the day as a weather system drops down from the north and kicks up winds, said Matlow.

“As the cold front passes over we’re going to see very erratic wind behavior,” he said. “We have expectations that we’ll have winds in all directions over the fire today.”

The blaze pushed 15 miles to the north Wednesday amid similar conditions. 

“Yesterday we saw extreme fire growth,” said Matlow. “The fire was averaging about a half-mile an hour.”

The fire has been pumping out massive pyrocumulonimbus clouds since it first sparked in July. 

“I can tell you conditions are ripe right now for pyrocumulonimbus cloud development,” said Matlow. “I’m looking out my window at one right now, which is very large.”

These massive, mushroom-shaped clouds of hot, smoky air towering thousands of feet into the sky are caused by a natural source of heat such as wildfires, according to NASA. Rising warm air from the fire carries water vapor, ash and smoke up into the atmosphere, forming clouds.

These clouds can become so intense that they create their own weather and emit lightning that can start new wildfires on the ground. 

The Way Station bar burns as the Dixie Fire tears through the Greenville community of Plumas County, Calif., on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021. The fire leveled multiple historic buildings and dozens of homes in central Greenville.Noah Berger/AP

Aug. 4, 11:32 p.m. The largest wildfire burning in California so far this year engulfed a small Northern California mountain town Wednesday night, leveling much of the downtown and scorching surrounding homes. 

Edie Villetas

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