California Residents Refusing to Abandon Homes During Dixie Fire Evacuation Order

by Emily Morgan

California officials ordered the community of Butte Meadows to evacuate Friday evening as the Dixie Fire continued to grow in size and strength — yet some are choosing to stay in their homes.

Some are staying in the area for multiple reasons. They’re staying behind to protect family homes, help others if the fire grows, or, simply, because they’re not afraid of the wildfires. At this time, more than 5,000 firefighters are battling the blaze and 10,000 homes remain threatened by the fires.

“The Dixie Fire experienced significant growth and very challenging fire conditions,” fire managers said in an incident report late on Sunday.

Despite orders and ongoing reports to evacuate, some California residents are holding strong and remaining at home. Dario Ceragioli was playing music from his garage Saturday morning. The only other noises in the area at the time were the sounds from emergency vehicles.

According to Ceragioli, his deep ties to this area are what’s driving him to stay. His uncle built a cabin in the 1930s while his parents called it their “favorite place to be.” For others like Ceragioli, they’re staying for the sake of their history and community.

California Residents Stay Put Despite Growing Dixie Fire

“Year-round about 60 people (live here). In the summertime like now, there’s about 460. So everybody is losing their summer homes,” says Ceragioli. “I’m the last lifeline. If somebody needs to come back up, I’m here.”

Others, like Cathy Ellsworth, say plainly that they don’t believe their homes are at risk from the wildfires.

“I’m old enough, I don’t care. I’m okay. God loves me and I’m ready,” says Ellsworth. She added bluntly, “If it comes down to that, take me.”

The Dixie Fire, burning northeast of Paradise, Calif., started July 13. By Friday morning, local fire crews said the fire grew nearly 30,000 acres overnight and had burned 142,940 acres. As of Monday morning, the Dixie Fire has burned 197,487 acres and is 22 percent contained.

Pacific Gas & Electric reported to California utility regulators that its equipment might have contributed to the fires’ start. In the past, PG&E equipment has been linked to significant wildfires. The company was involved in the Camp Fire that ravaged the town of Paradise and killed 85 people.

As for the growing Dixie Fire, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said nearly 4,000 Californians had to evacuate due to the wildfires.

In Plumas County, officials ordered new evacuation orders on Thursday. Officials also shared an evacuation map, with areas in red representing mandatory evacuations and the yellow areas being evacuation warning areas. As for those staying home, regardless of what happens, most residents say their cars are packed and ready to go if the Dixie Fire grows closer to their home.