As firefighters continue to increase containment lines around California’s largest wildfire, some evacuation orders have been lifted and roads reopening in Butte and Plumas counties. But a fire analyst for the Dixie Fire’s east zone warned of a “much dryer period” on Monday afternoon which could increase fire behavior.
As of Monday morning, the Dixie Fire had burned 248,820 acres and was 35% contained, according to Cal Fire. About 5,460 personnel are assigned to the fire that has prompted evacuation orders in Butte and Plumas counties.
More than 3,160 structures are now threatened by the blaze, which is down from the more than 10,000 threatened one day earlier. Sixty-seven structures have been destroyed, according to Cal Fire. It’s now the 11th largest fire in California history.
The Dixie Fire had already leveled more than a dozen houses and other structures in Northern California when it combined with the Fly Fire and tore through the tiny community of Indian Falls after dark.
Fire officials have asked that residents who may be returning to the area drive safely.
Authorities warned that with unpredictable winds and extremely dry fuels, the risk of flare-ups remained high.
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Dixie Fire outlook
The Dixie Fire sparked July 13 north of the Cresta Dam, which is not far from where the 2018 Camp Fire northeast of Paradise claimed the lives of more than 80 people.
At the west zone of the blaze, Cal Fire said Monday morning that fire behavior is expected to increase due to dry conditions. The blaze continues to move toward control lines in unburned interior islands and ridges, officials said. No big weather changes are expected as crews “continue to mop up, conduct fuel reduction operations, and tactical patrol,” Cal Fire said in a 7 a.m. update.
On the east zone of the fire, crews spent Sunday night establishing fire lines after spot fires were discovered on Dark Ravine and the Round Valley Lake area.
“Expect to see columns of smoke developing over the area as interior islands of unburned vegetation are consumed,” Cal Fire said.
Rush Creek is believed to be a “critical concern” where crews are hoping to prevent the fire’s spread north.
Burns, the fire behavior analyst, said there was the potential for “seeing fire behavior fairly similar to when this fire started. Strong winds over the top of the fire.”
That could include the potential for 25-35 mph wind gusts, he said.
California has secured a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to help battle the wildfire affecting Butte and Plumas counties, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office announced.
Dixie Fire evacuation order information
Genesee Road at North Valley Road – No westbound Arlington Road and no northbound North Valley Road.
• State Route 70 at West Chandler Road – No westbound SR70 and No northbound Chandler Road
• Bucks Lake Road at Big Creek Road – No northbound Bucks Lake Road and No eastbound Big Creek Road
• State Route 89 at Humbug Humboldt Cross Rd. — No westbound Humboldt Road
• State Route 70 at State Route 89 (Greenville “Y”) – No westbound SR70
• Bucks Lake Road at Lower Big Creek Rd. “Y” – No northbound Bucks Lake Road.
State Route 70 at Deadwood Road – No eastbound SR70
Humboldt at Bambi Inn – No northbound Scout Road
State Route 32 at Humboldt Road – No eastbound Humboldt Road.
The utility said in a filing this month that a repair person responding to a circuit outage on July 13 spotted blown fuses in a conductor atop a pole, a tree leaning into the conductor, and fire at the base of the tree.
PG&E equipment has repeatedly been linked to major wildfires, including the 2018 fire that ravaged the town of Paradise.