Fire engulfs Northern California town, leveling businesses

Aug 3, 2021, 10:44 PM | Updated: Aug 5, 2021, 12:05 am
Flames leap from trees as the Dixie Fire jumps Highway 89 north of Greenville in Plumas County, Cal...

Flames leap from trees as the Dixie Fire jumps Highway 89 north of Greenville in Plumas County, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021. Dry and windy conditions have led to increased fire activity as firefighters battle the blaze which ignited July 14. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

GREENVILLE, Calif. (AP) — California’s largest wildfire has leveled much of the downtown and some surrounding homes in a small Northern California mountain community.

The Dixie Fire tore through the Greenville on Wednesday evening, destroying businesses and homes as the sky was cast in an orange glow. A photographer on assignment for The Associated Press described seeing a gas station, hotel and bar burned to the ground.

“If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!!” the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office posted on Facebook earlier Wednesday.

The sheriff’s department and Cal Fire did not immediately respond to messages.

The 3-week-old fire has grown to over 428 square miles (1,108 square kilometers) across Plumas and Butte counties.

Firefighters had been trying to protect the town of 800 about 280 miles (450 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco by clearing debris from roads and marking hazards.

Pandora Valle, a spokesperson with the U.S. Forest Service, earlier told The San Francisco Chronicle that “firefighters are fighting for the town of Greenville,” but could not provide further details about the damage.

The destruction came amid a red flag warning issued by forecasters warning of hot, bone-dry conditions with winds up to 40 mph (64 kph). That could drive flames through timber, brush and grass, especially along the northern and northeastern sides of the vast Dixie Fire.

“I think we definitely have a few hard days ahead of us,” said Shannon Prather with the U.S. Forest Service.

Firefighters were able to save homes and hold large stretches of the blaze. But flames jumped perimeter lines in a few spots Tuesday, prompting additional evacuation orders for about 15,000 people east of Lake Almanor, fire officials said.

Heat from the flames created a pyrocumulus cloud, a massive column of smoke that rose 30,000 feet (10,000 yards) in the air, said Mike Wink, a state fire operations section chief.

Dawn Garofalo watched the cloud grow from the west side of the lake, where she fled with a dog and two horses, from a friend’s property near Greenville.

“There’s only one way in and one way out. I didn’t want to be stuck up there if the fire came through,” Garofalo said.

From her campsite on the lake bed, she watched the fire glowing on the horizon before dawn. “The flames were huge. They must have been 500 feet high. Scary,” she said.

The fire has threatened thousands of homes and destroyed 67 houses and other buildings since breaking out July 14. It was 35% contained.

About 150 miles (240 kilometers) to the west, the lightning-sparked McFarland Fire threatened remote homes along the Trinity River in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The fire was only 5% contained. It had burned fiercely through nearly 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) of drought-stricken vegetation.

Similar risky weather was expected across Southern California, where heat advisories and warnings were issued for interior valleys, mountains and deserts for much of the week.

Heat waves and historic drought tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in the American West. Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

More than 20,000 firefighters and support personnel were battling 97 large, active wildfires covering 2,919 square miles (7,560 square kilometers) in 13 U.S. states, the National Interagency Fire Center said.

Montana on Tuesday had 25 active large blazes, followed by Idaho with 21 and Oregon with 13. California had 11.

In Hawaii, firefighters gained control over the 62-square-mile (160-square-kilometer) Mana Road Fire that forced thousands of people to evacuate over the weekend and destroyed at least two homes on the Big Island.

Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, the nation’s largest at 647 square miles (1,676 square kilometers), was 84% contained. Firefighters were busy mopping up hot spots and strengthening fire lines.

“Crews are working tirelessly to ensure we are as prepared as we can be for the extreme fire weather forecast for the next couple days,” a U.S. Forest Service update said.

___

This story has been corrected to show the name of the blaze in Hawaii is the Mana Road Fire, not the Nation Fire.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Models wear creations as part of the Benetton women's Spring Summer 2023 collection presented in Mi...
Associated Press

Benetton, Ferrari close Milan Fashion Week with bold moves

MILAN (AP) — Milan Fashion Week closed Sunday after five days of mostly womenswear previews that celebrated diversity and renewal, with more designers of color represented than ever and a host of new talent making their debuts at major fashion houses. The Italian fashion council was also putting the spotlight on sustainability with the return […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

‘Eco-warrior” and Earth First! co-founder Dave Foreman dies

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Dave Foreman, a self-proclaimed eco-warrior who was a prominent member of the radical environmentalism movement and a co-founder of Earth First!, has died. He was 74. The New Mexico-based Rewilding Institute, which Foreman founded as a think tank to develop long-term land conservation plans, said on its website that he died […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Heavy crane topples onto downtown Oklahoma City building

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A 60-ton crane being used to remove a video display board from a downtown Oklahoma City building toppled onto the building that houses several news offices, officials said. The crane’s operator suffered minor injuries in the Saturday afternoon accident. Two other men working in the bucket of a small crane and […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

San Diego County to pay $1.35M over 2018 in-custody death

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego County and other defendants have agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the mother of a Mexican citizen who died after sheriff’s deputies arrested him in 2018, officials said. The lawsuit filed by Dolores Rosales, of Tijuana, alleged deputies used excessive force when they took […]
11 hours ago
Associated Press

Swiss voters OK plan to raise retirement age for women to 65

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss voters on Sunday narrowly backed a proposal to raise the retirement age for women from 64 to 65, public broadcaster SRF reported. A separate proposal to impose stricter animal welfare rules for livestock was heading for a big defeat, SRF also reported. The change means the Swiss pension system would require […]
11 hours ago
FILE - In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by th...
Associated Press

Analysis: Latest Iran protests likely not last for Tehran

Only glimpses of videos that make it online show the protests convulsing Iran over the death of a 22-year-old woman who had been detained by the nation’s morality police. But those flashes show that public anger across the country, once only simmering, is now boiling. The demonstrations surrounding the death of Mahsa Amini — and […]
11 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
SCHWARTZ LASER EYE CENTER

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Fire engulfs Northern California town, leveling businesses