Dixie Fire Destroys Home of Elderly Couple Whose Previous House Was Razed by 2020 Bear Fire

An elderly couple in California lost their home to the Dixie Fire – the state's second largest blaze and one of the most destructive in its history – nearly a year after their previous house was destroyed by the Bear Fire in September.

Joan and Dan Carter of Greenville, California, told the San Francisco Chronicle that on two separate occasions, their dream homes have been ravaged by unforgiving wildfires.

The Carters, who are in their 70s, said the most recent destruction came just as they were building a new house, which was expected to be done by Christmas. The couple had moved to Greenville after living out of a fifth-wheel trailer for months, following the destruction of their previous home in Berry Creek, located near the city of Oroville.

That previous house was engulfed in flames last September by the Bear Fire, which destroyed more than $250,000 worth of belongings, family heirlooms, antique ledgers from the 1800s, art, and furniture from Dan's mother, who had recently passed away.

"Things weren't so important," Joan told the news outlet. "It was the loss itself. You lost a dream."

The couple had also saved up money and bough a year's worth of food, but did not have time to salvage it.

"When you're on that much of a fixed income, and you've saved for months and months, and it's gone — it's heartbreaking," said their daughter Jennifer Carter-Mills.

Seeking a new beginning, the Carters found land in Greenville, a northern town where they expected to encounter more snow and less fires. But just as construction on their new home began, the Dixie Fire ravaged through the area, once again destroying the couple's property.

Though they will have to start over yet again, the Carters are maintaining a positive attitude. Back in an RV park for now, the couple said they will return to Greenville and work with members of the community to rebuild the town and plant new vegetation when it's safe.

The Dixie Fire first erupted on July 14 above the Cresta Dam in the densely forested northern Sierra Nevada. It's since spread over Plumas, Butte, Lassen and Tehama counties, burning more than 515,000 acres—or more than 17 times the size of San Francisco. In early August the fire reached Greenville, destroying well over 100 businesses and homes, and leveling the town.

Authorities say the Dixie Fire and other fires in the West are behaving more dangerously than firefighters have ever seen. Heat waves and historic drought conditions have made the blazes more difficult to combat, even with thousands of crews on the ground.

Greenville Dixie Fire
An elderly couple in California lost their home to the Dixie Fire – the state's second largest blaze and one of the most destructive in its history – nearly a year after their previous house was destroyed by the Bear Fire in September. In this photo, a burned truck is buried under rubble next to a property that was destroyed by the Dixie Fire on August 11, 2021 in Greenville, California. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images