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Dixie fire burns 2 structures as California fires expand

One of the state’s largest wildfires has taken a turn for destruction.

The Dixie fire, which burns in Butte and Plumas counties, has reached 85,479 acres with a 15% containment, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said Wednesday – and has burned at least two structures.

This is the first time that the fire has destroyed structures since it started on July 14.

Cal Fire did not provide details on the types of structures blown down. At least 800 other buildings are at risk, the agency said.

Officials said the blaze was moving away from the town of Paradise, which was ravaged by the 2018 camp fire, and towards Almanor Lake, where other homes and cabins are located.

Evacuation warnings have been issued for the west shore of Almanor Lake, including the Canyon Dam and Prattville. Evacuation orders previously issued by the blaze remain unchanged, the Butte County Sheriff’s Office said on Wednesday.

The Dixie Fire developed at such a rate that it created its own climate, including a massive pyrocumulonimbus cloud that generated its own lightning bolt. In an update on the incident Tuesday night, Cal Fire chief operating officer Tony Brownwell said the fire remained very active amid the dry landscape.

“The fuel component right now is so dry that almost 100% of the sparks that come out find receptive fuel and ignite,” he said. “It is indicative of our continued drought.”

More than 1,000 more people arrived on Wednesday to help fight the blazes, said Rick Carhart, spokesperson for Cal Fire’s Butte County unit. The additions bring the crew size to over 3,300. Officials hope the beefed-up numbers will help turn the tide against the stubborn fire.

“We’re sort of flooding the area with firefighters,” Carhart said. “It will really help to be able to do more and to be able to cover a bigger area. “

Carhart said crews still face gusty wind conditions, which create extreme fire behavior that can force firefighters to back up.

Now it’s about “watching the weather and keeping that situational awareness so they can come in and do as much work as possible,” he said.

But tired California firefighters were also dealing with the growing Tamarack fire in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest near the Nevada state border, and a new fire in Yuba County that spawned. lit Tuesday afternoon.

The Tamarack fire remained at 0% containment Wednesday morning, fire spokeswoman Tracy LeClair said. Crews struggled to get new area figures because the pyrocumulonimbus cloud and heavy smoke from the fire made aerial observation difficult, but they believe it exceeded 40,000 acres by day. the following day.

“There has been a lot of good work done here, but there is still a lot of work to be done, and there is still a lot of potential for this fire to move,” said operations director Pat Seekens during an update on the incident Tuesday night.

About 800 homes are now at risk from the blaze, LeClair said, noting that crews were prioritizing the northern and eastern perimeters of the blaze in order to prevent the flames from crossing the freeways.

But Wednesday morning, video showed the fire appearing to blow up Hwy 89.

In response to the swelling flames, the Douglas County Nevada Sheriff’s Office issued voluntary evacuations for the Leviathan and Holbrook Junction areas. On the California side, the Markleeville, Woodford and Mesa Vista areas remain under mandatory evacuation orders, officials said.

The California Department of Transportation also closed State Highway 88 from Picketts Junction to the Nevada state border due to the fire.

A smoke specialist has been hired to help with air quality monitoring, said LeClair, who continues to hover in the unhealthy beach in Markleeville and surrounding areas.

The plumes of smoke from the western fires have grown so strong that they are now producing haze all the way to the east coast.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Yuba County, the Frenchtown fire ignited around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday near Frenchtown Dobbins Road and Seward Lane, Cal Fire officials said.

It grew to around 70 acres and started a 20-acre spot fire nearby, and crews worked through the night to put out the flames.

As of Wednesday morning, the Frenchtown blaze was 75% under control, Cal Fire said, and progress had been halted.

“The incident commander saw the potential of this fire as soon as we got the location,” said Mary Eldridge, spokesperson for Cal Fire’s Nevada-Yuba-Placer unit, noting that local crews intervened immediately and were able to prevent massive spread. .

“They did a lot of work overnight and they really managed to put a stop to it,” she said.

Despite the progress, at least one structure was damaged during the blaze, Eldridge said.

And even as the smoke clears and the flames clear, California firefighters must remain on high alert: Wildfires across the state have consumed more than 273,000 acres this year, Cal Fire said, and at least five major fires remain active.

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