Dixie Fire Threatening Over 14,000 Structures, Almost 900 Already Destroyed

The Dixie Fire, the largest single wildfire in California's history, is threatening more than 14,000 structures in mountain and rural communities in the northern Sierra Nevada as it continues to scorch the state, the Associated Press reported.

The blaze has destroyed nearly 900 homes since it ignited almost a month ago. The small community of Greenville was mostly consumed by the flames last week.

Reports on the damage caused by the Dixie Fire are "definitely subject to change," since assessors can't access some of the scorched areas to evaluate how much was destroyed, fire spokesman Edwin Zuniga said.

Some stretches of clear skies over the fire this week made it possible for aircrafts to join the nearly 6,000 firefighters battling the blaze.

"Whether or not we can fly depends very much on where the smoke is. There's still some areas where it's just too smoky," Zuniga said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Dixie Fire Damage
The Dixie Fire has destroyed nearly 900 homes and is threatening 14,000 more buildings in the northern Sierra Nevada. A home and garage destroyed by the Dixie Fire sits on the roadside on August 9, 2021 near Greenville, California. Maranie R. Staab/Getty Images

Crews have cut thousands of acres of new fire lines aimed at preventing the fire from spreading. Officials believe the fire lines created on the blaze's southern side will hold the fire at bay there, but the fire's future is unknown, authorities said.

"We don't know where this fire is going to end and where it's going to land. It continues to challenge us," said Chris Carlton, supervisor for Plumas National Forest.

Temperatures are expected to rise and the humidity is expected to fall over the next few days, with triple-digit high temperatures possible later in the week along with a return of strong afternoon winds, fire meteorologist Rich Thompson warned Monday evening.

The fire that broke out July 14 had grown to an area of 762 square miles (1,973 square kilometers) and was just 25 percennt contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The Dixie Fire is about half the size of the August Complex, a series of lightning-caused 2020 fires across seven counties that were fought together and that state officials consider California's largest wildfire overall.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday declared a state of emergency for northern Shasta, Trinity and Tehama counties. The declaration frees up state resources to help fight fires in those counties and give assistance to residents affected by he blazes.

California's raging wildfires are among some 100 large blazes burning across 15 states, mostly in the West, where historic drought conditions have left lands parched and ripe for ignition.

The Dixie Fire is the largest single fire in California history and the largest currently burning in the U.S. Nearly a quarter of all firefighters assigned to Western fires are fighting California blazes, said Rocky Oplinger, an incident commander.

Heat waves and historic drought tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West. Scientists have said climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. The fires across the West come as parts of Europe are also fighting large blazes spurred by tinder-dry conditions.

Northwest of the Dixie Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, hundreds of homes remained threatened by two fires that continued to grow. About a third of the McFarland Fire was contained. New evacuation orders were issued Monday for residents near the Monument Fire, which was only about 3 percent contained.

South of the Dixie Fire, firefighters prevented further growth of the River Fire, which broke out last Wednesday near the community of Colfax and destroyed 68 homes. It was nearly 80 percent contained.

Forest Outside Greenville, CA
The Dixie Fire, which has become the largest single wildfire in California history, destroyed much of the community of Greenville last week. Smoke fills the evening air on August 9, 2021 in Greenville. Maranie R. Staab/Getty Images