California Firefighter Dies While Battling Dixie Fire

by Courtney Blackann

A tumultuous fire season in California continues to rage. Firefighters work to edge off the Dixie and Caldor fires this week. Amid the damage, officials announced Saturday a Lassen National Forest first responder has died in the line of duty.

While the firefighter’s identity is still unknown, fire officials also said the fire engine operator was suffering from a previous illness.

Further, the Dixie Fire is the second-worst fire in the state’s history, Fox News reports. It has consumed almost 1 million acres of land and destroyed more than 1,282 structures – including businesses, buildings and homes.

The Dixie Fire has been burning since July 13 and is now 56 percent contained. However, the damage – which reaches across four counties – has significantly impacted the state. Pushing firefighters and first responders to their limits, local authorities have been working around the clock.

Caldor Fire Effects

Additionally, just a month after the Dixie Fire gripped the region, the Caldor Fire started burning 65 miles south. Since Aug. 14, the Caldor Fire has been raging, moving its way through El Dorado County and through Lake Tahoe – a usually popular destination for tourists.

The fire consumed an additional 200,000 acres of land and almost 500 homes. Other buildings burned as well.

As the Caldor Fire stretched towards Lake Tahoe, tens of thousands evacuated. Fire officials employed every effort, even using snow machines to combat the flames.

Moreover, air quality from the smoke and dry weather pushed the air quality to hazardous levels. Reports said that before the Labor Day weekend, the air quality around Lake Tahoe was at 694 API. Visitors and residents in the area were encouraged to wear masks, stay inside with windows shut, or replan their visit altogether.

Also, several national parks were closed through mid-September due to the dangerous conditions.

“It is especially hard with the approaching Labor Day weekend, when so many people enjoy our national forests,” California’s Regional Forester Jennifer Eberlien said. “But it must be done. As the USFS states, the move serves to “better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing California wildfire crisis.”

Wildfires Throughout Summer

Officials believe it’s finally getting safe to return to the area as the fire is more contained and a break in the dry weather.

‘Things are clearly heading in the right direction for us,’ said Dean Gould, a supervisor with the U.S. Forest Service, according to The Daily Mail.

While officials work to keep the two wildfires at bay, both drought and hot weather still threaten the area and its wildlife. Authorities said the climate is one of the driest in recent years. A string of wildfires ripped through the west and northwest this year. Several states saw record hot temperatures.