“Dixie Fire” Becomes Third Largest Fire in California History

An intense and stocked fire has yet to go out. The massive wildfire raging in northern California became the state’s third-largest wildfire in recent history on Friday, and its expansion could continue. Prolonged drought, which scientists believe is linked to climate change, has made the western United States particularly vulnerable to these very destructive fires.

The Dixie Fire, which devastated the small town of Greenville this week, has eaten more than 170,000 acres since it broke out in mid-July. “The people who lost their homes and businesses … Their lives will never be the same again,” said Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns, who is helping coordinate fire fighting efforts and has lived in Greenville “for forever”. “My heart is broken by what happened” in this town of 800 inhabitants, he said. “All I can tell you is that I’m sorry. “

More than 5,000 firefighters fought the huge blaze, whose huge billows of smoke are visible from space. Authorities said Friday they expected gusts of wind to fuel the blaze. These storms, combined with difficult terrain and abundant, very dry vegetation, further hampered firefighting efforts.

Burned, Greenville showed nothing but ruins on Friday. All wooden structures were reduced to ashes and some stone constructions to rubble. Greenville is used to fire. It had already been almost destroyed in 1881, and several fires threatened its inhabitants during the last century and a half.

If no one has been injured yet, it is vital that locals on your way heed evacuation notices, Todd Johns said. “This fire is not over. If that plume of smoke is heading towards you even a little bit, you need to prepare. Wherever the wind blows, this is where (the fire) will go. “

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The “Dixie Fire” spread in the space of one night, to cover 175,000 hectares, an area larger than that of the “Bootleg Fire”, devastating the state of Oregon, further north. Its flames have grown to such an extent that they generate their own climate.

Wildfires are common in California, but due to climate change they are increasingly devastating. By the end of July, the fires had already destroyed two and a half times more vegetation than during the same period in 2020, yet the worst year in California’s history in terms of fires.

The “Dixie Fire” is painfully reminiscent of the “Paradise Fire” of 2018, the deadliest fire for California in recent years. Faulty power lines, running through the northern city of Paradise, caused the fire, killing 86 people.

Power provider Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), California’s largest power company, pleaded guilty. The PG&E team is again in doubt over the “Dixie Fire” after a tree fell on a power cord the day the fire started. The company announced in late July that it would bury its 16,000 km of electrical cables to prevent its equipment from starting new devastating fires.

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