The Dixie Fire exploded in size, growing thousands of acres on Wednesday, fueled by hot, dry, windy conditions. The fire destroyed much of the downtown area of the Greenville community in Northern California’s Plumas County on Wednesday, engulfing multiple historic buildings in flames and leveling dozens of homes.
Powerful photos show homes and vehicles in Greenville completely consumed by the blaze. According to the Associated Press, the fire destroyed a gas station, a hotel and a bar, among many other structures. The town dates back to the California Gold Rush era, and still has some buildings aged more than a century old.
As the fire edged closer to the town, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office posted a warning to Facebook to warn the town’s approximately 800 residents: “You are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!”
This was the second time the town was told to evacuate due to the fire. The first evacuation order was lifted when firefighters were able to keep the fire far enough away from the town, but on Wednesday, they couldn’t save the community.
“We did everything we could,” fire spokesman Mitch Matlow said, according to the AP. “Sometimes it’s just not enough.”
In total, nearly 26,500 people in several counties are under evacuation orders due to the fire.
The Dixie Fire has been burning for three weeks, and is currently California’s largest wildfire. The fire is the states eighth largest fire in recorded history in terms of land burned — more than 503 square miles according to InciWeb’s Thursday update.
The fire is 35% contained as of Thursday. There are about 4,927 fire personnel responding to the incident. Red flag warnings, due to gusty winds and low humidity, remain in effect for the fire until Thursday evening.
There are currently 98 large wildfires burning more than 2,980 square miles in the West, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The fires are fueled by an ongoing drought in the region. More than 87% of the West is under severe drought conditionsor in a worse category of drought, the U.S. Drought Monitor reports.
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