It happened like a tornado. The Dixie Fire ravaged the historic mining town of Greenville, California, engulfing everything in its path and turning it into a hellish landscape.
“We lost Greenville tonight,” Congressman Doug LaMalfa said in a video on Facebook.
The historic main street has been reduced to rubble, and homes and businesses are charred to the point of being unrecognizable. Some of the destroyed buildings date from the 1800s.
Firefighters struggled to break through the smoke. Thick clouds of smoke still fill the air.
The Dixie Fire, which is California’s biggest wildfire this year, now covers more than 300,000 acres. The massive fire started last month but exploded this week. It was fueled by high temperatures, low humidity, and strong winds.
“The hardest part I guess is not knowing what’s going on and where it’s going. It blows up so fast you just don’t have time to react,” said Brace Rhoads, a resident.
Fire chief Sergio Mora has documented the damage. “It’s devastating. It’s hard to express other than it’s difficult,” he said.
Mora was there to keep his fellow firefighters safe as they battled the flames. It was his 23rd day on the job. As the fire engulfed the city, one of the last things he did was close the doors to the fire station.
“I hope I never have to see this again. The post office is gone, the bank is gone, their library, their fire station, a few churches, many houses, their livelihood,” a- he declared.
More than three hours away, residents of the California-Nevada border fled the Fire River, which created fireballs. Some residents fled with only the clothes on their backs.
“I have my family together and that’s what matters,” said Lorrie Barnes, another resident.