Dixie Fire Growth Prompts New Evacuations as Blaze Nears 1 Million Acres

The Dixie Fire in California is approaching 1 million acres burned as it continues to spread, forcing new evacuations.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, announced Thursday night the wildfire had grown to 928,741 acres—an increase of roughly 10,000 acres since September 8.

More than 1,300 buildings have been destroyed, including 728 homes and 139 commercial properties. Approximately 2,155 structures still remain threatened as firefighters work to extinguish the fire.

The blaze, which has been burning for nearly two months, is now 59 percent contained. Officials don't have an estimated full containment date, but experts previously told Newsweek that the fire could last until winter rain and snow arrives in the region.

The Dixie Fire is California's second-largest wildfire in history, spreading over several Sierra Nevada counties. The blaze is also closing in on the August Complex fire, which burned 1.3 million acres in 2020 and was the state's largest fire ever.

The Dixie Fire has leveled several mountain towns, including Greenville and Grizzly Flats.

New evacuation orders and warnings have been issued as the fire continues to spread. Cal Fire announced Friday that the warnings include west of but not including Boyd Springs Road southwest to the Lassen County line. It also covered the Hoover Flat Reservoir area west of Boyd Springs Road and Little Valley Road.

On Thursday night, the Shasta County Sheriff's Office upgraded evacuation warnings to evacuation orders for two zones. One zone covers the area east of Highway 89 just south of Hat Creek and extends to the Lassen County line. The other zone extends from Cinder Butte on the western edge to the Lassen County line and north of Bald Mountain.

Dixie Fire: New Evacuations, Nears 1M Acres
California's Dixie Fire is approaching 1 million acres burned as it continues to spread, forcing new evacuations. Above, a Cal Fire firefighter watches as an air tanker makes a fire retardant drop on the Dixie Fire as trees burn on a hillside near Janesville, California, on August 18. Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Officials predicted Thursday that fire conditions were going to continue to worsen because of a cold front carrying heavy winds that is entering the area.

The National Weather Service in Reno issued a "Red Flag Warning"—indicating the imminent danger of severe fire weather—because of gusty winds and low humidity. The warning was in effect from 11 p.m. Thursday to 11 p.m. Friday.

Cal Fire officials also warned of thunderstorms, with potential dry lightning fueling intense fire activity.

"Erratic outflow winds from thunderstorms tonight and continuing gusty winds will test containment lines and could cause new fires to rapidly grow in size and intensity," the agency said Thursday.

More than 4,800 personnel are helping to battle the fire. Three first responders have been injured in the blaze.

One firefighter assigned to the Dixie Fire died from an illness on September 2. The firefighter has been identified as Marcus Pacheco.

"Marcus was a helper. Marcus loved everybody and this community. It didn't matter if he was busy or not, he would drop what he was doing, and he would try to help. If he did not, he would try to figure it out," his girlfriend, Marcia Dahlen, told KRCR.

Newsweek reached out to Cal Fire for additional comment but didn't receive a response before publication.