Dixie Fire, California's Largest, Burns Near a Scarred Community

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U.S.|California’s largest wildfire is burning adjacent scarred communities.


A location  was destroyed arsenic  the Dixie Fire flared successful  Plumas County, Calif., connected  Saturday.
Credit...Noah Berger/Associated Press

Jill Cowan

  • July 26, 2021, 3:35 p.m. ET

The Dixie Fire, California’s largest wildfire this year, continued to chew done thousands of acres of unsmooth terrain connected Monday, prompting evacuation orders and threatening communities successful a portion scarred by the representation of the 2018 Camp Fire, the deadliest successful the state’s history.

More than 5,400 firefighters were battling the Dixie Fire, which merged implicit the play with different adjacent blaze, the Fly Fire, and had burned done astir 200,000 acres, according to Cal Fire, the state’s occurrence agency.

That’s an country a small larger than New York City, and astir fractional of the acreage burned by the Bootleg Fire successful confederate Oregon, the nation’s largest this year. But the Bootleg Fire is burning successful a much distant area; 300 radical unrecorded wrong 5 miles of that blaze, according to The New York Times’s wildfire tracker, compared with 4,900 wrong 5 miles of the Dixie Fire.

The Dixie Fire started much than a week ago, conscionable a mates of miles from the spot wherever the Camp Fire ignited, said Rick Carhart, a spokesperson for Cal Fire successful Butte County. That occurrence killed much than 80 radical and each but leveled the distant municipality of Paradise.

“There truly is truthful overmuch — there’s nary different connection for it — PTSD,” Mr. Carhart said. “There’s truthful overmuch anxiety.”

A watercourse of firefighting helicopters taking disconnected from a adjacent airdrome successful caller days has flown implicit Magalia, a assemblage that was besides devastated by the Camp Fire. Residents determination are retired of the way of this year’s flames, Mr. Carhart said, but they are inactive afraid.

“They spot a chopper with a bucket attached,” helium said. “And it’s, ‘Oh my God, present we spell again.’”

The 2 blazes besides carnivore different chilling similarity: Pacific Gas & Electric, the state’s largest utility, said past week that blown fuses connected 1 of its inferior poles whitethorn person sparked the Dixie Fire. PG&E pleaded guilty past twelvemonth to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter for its relation successful starting the Camp Fire.

So far, that level of demolition has been avoided this year.

Mr. Carhart said that crews person been making advancement successful controlling the Dixie Fire, and the upwind has been much cooperative successful caller days than occurrence officials had predicted. Nevertheless, the size and timing of the blaze — which helium said is already the 15th-largest successful California’s recorded past — constituent to a aboriginal successful which fires won’t beryllium constricted to a azygous season.

“One of the astir concerning things astir it is however aboriginal successful the twelvemonth it is,” Mr. Carhart said.

Last year’s record-breaking wildfire season, during which millions of acres burned crossed California and the West, really had a below-average start, helium said, until wide lightning strikes ignited tinder-dry vegetation successful galore distant areas.

Right now, Mr. Carhart said, the thousands of firefighters who are cutting occurrence lines, dousing blistery spots oregon doing immoderate of the different time-consuming, physically demanding enactment required of them, are looking astatine months passing earlier there’ is immoderate important rainfall, which heralds an extremity to the astir aggravated occurrence activity.

In the past, helium said, helium mightiness person expected a blaze similar the Dixie Fire sometime successful September — not July.

“We’re each benignant of learning that occurrence play isn’t a three-month oregon six-month happening anymore,” helium said.

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