On Tuesday, officials announced that the Dixie Fire raging in Northern California is on track to become the state’s largest wildfire ever.
In 2020, the August Complex wildfire became the largest in California by acreage in history when it burned through 1,032,648 acres. As of today, the Dixie Fire has burned more than 917,500 acres of the state’s land. Firefighters have only contained 59% of the wildfires as well. At this pace, officials expect the current wildfire to take over as the largest ever.
The Dixie Fire has destroyed or damaged almost 1,300 buildings and structures since it began on July 14. California has been ravaged by huge wildfires over the last two decades. Since 1932, 17 of the top 20 largest wildfires have occurred since 2000. Further, 11 have made the list since 2016, and three since just this year.
“For September through December, the entire state shows drier, more wind events, and large fire activity to continue for the next three months,” said Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter.
Dixie Fire Destroys Historic Gold Rush-Era Town
On Friday, area officials lifted mandatory evacuation orders for those who lived in the path of the Dixie Fire. About a thousand residents live in a historic Gold Rush town that’s about 125 miles northwest of Nevada called Greenville, California.
As residents evacuated in early August, they knew the Dixie Fire could damage certain areas of town. However, when they recently returned home, no one could’ve expected the devastation the wildfires caused. The flames from the wildfires destroyed almost the entire town of historic Greenville. Even for those whose homes aren’t completely burned down, returning home still isn’t safe. Greenville is still without clean running water, and has no phone or internet capabilities.
In addition, the Dixie Fire knocked out virtually every business in town. Therefore needed services such as drug stores, grocery stores, gas stations, and restaurants are mostly closed and unavailable.
Greenville resident Jose Garcia recalled fighting the wildfire to the New York Times recently. Garcia said that as the fire approached, he and his father, Juvenal Garcia, created firebreaks to prevent destruction. Yet the Dixie Fire was too much for them as they eventually had to seek shelter elsewhere.
“I tried to defend it to the last second,” Garcia explained. “The fire just pushed me out.”
California Firefighter Dies While Battling Wildfire
As the Dixie Fire continues to rage through California, firefighters are continuing their efforts to repel it. Sadly, officials announced on Saturday that a Lassen National Forest first responder passed away while on the job.
Fire officials haven’t released the firefighter’s identity. But they did add that he suffered from a previous illness.
As the wildfires continue to impact the state, firefighters and other first responders are working around the clock to contain them. Officials have started to lift evacuation orders and are hopeful residents can return home safely in the near future.
“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.