California's Dixie Fire Grows to Over 675k Acres, Strong Winds Increased Fire Activity

California's Dixie Fire has grown to over 670,000 acres and officials have pointed to strong winds as a cause for the fire's increased growth.

An update from the national wildfire incident system, InciWeb, showed that the Dixie Fire has burned at least 678,369 acres as of Thursday morning and is currently 35 percent contained.

On Wednesday, officials said the Dixie Fire burned 635,728 acres, indicating the fire has grown by over 40,000 acres overnight.

In an InciWeb update on Wednesday night, officials said that fire activity in the west zone "increased today due to clearing smoke and northeast wind."

"With the change in wind direction, large column and pyrocumulus development occurred throughout the afternoon. Fire in steep topography was pushed by channeling winds, increasing the rate of spread," the update for the fire's west zone said.

On the Dixie Fire's east zone, officials said that Northwesterly winds "with gusts up to 20 mph," have continued over the past several days.

"Smoke from the north end of the zone has blanketed the south end today. Aircraft is being used in support of the new fire perimeter near Janesville," the update said.

Dixie Fire
California's Dixie Fire has grown to over 675,000 acres on Thursday. Above, trees burn on a hillside during the Dixie Fire on Wednesday in the Plumas National Forest near Janesville, California. Patrick T. Fallon/Getty

Since the first was first reported by officials on July 14, it has continued to grow in size. It is currently burning across four different counties: Butte, Plumas, Lassen and Tehama. The cause of the Dixie Fire remains under investigation.

According to Cal Fire, over the past 36 days that the Dixie Fire has been active, it has destroyed at least 1,217 commercial, residential and other structures. At least 96 other structures have been damaged by the fire.

The Dixie Fire previously became the second largest wildfire in California history. The only fire bigger was the 2020 August Complex Fire, which grew to over 1 million acres.

On Wednesday, a Red Flag Warning was issued in parts of California amid high temperatures and strong wind speeds.

"The Red Flag Warning has been extended through tomorrow. Gusty winds will continue through tonight for the western Sierra & tomorrow evening for the Valley, creating critical fire weather conditions. Strongest winds are still expected tonight," the National Weather Service in Sacramento wrote in a tweet.

The Red Flag Warning has been extended through tomorrow. Gusty winds will continue through tonight for the western Sierra & tomorrow evening for the Valley, creating critical fire weather conditions. Strongest winds are still expected tonight. #CAwx #CAfire pic.twitter.com/8m51iW6VKu

— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) August 18, 2021

While the Dixie Fire is the second largest in California history, the state is also currently facing at least 11 other active wildfires, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Amid the ongoing wildfire situation in California, the state is facing poor air quality due to the fire's smoke.

"It was a smoky day across #NorCal. Here is what it looked as the MODIS satellite passed by. Smoky conditions are expected to continue into tomorrow," the Sacramento National Weather Service wrote in a tweet sharing a satellite image of the smoke.

It was a smoky day across #NorCal. Here is what it looked as the MODIS satellite passed by. Smoky conditions are expected to continue into tomorrow. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/i7PeY5Prq4

— NWS Sacramento (@NWSSacramento) August 19, 2021

According to a map from Air Now, the California cities of Redding, Chico, Susanville and Ukiah were experiencing "unhealthy" air quality.