Disasters & Accidents

Huge California wildfire has destroyed more than 500 homes

San Francisco, Aug 11 (EFE).- The huge wildfire that has been burning for four weeks in northeastern California has already destroyed more than 550 homes and firefighters have only managed to get it 30 percent contained, authorities reported on Wednesday.

So far, the Dixie fire, dubbed thusly because of the name of the mountain highway along which it began, has burned 202,700 hectares (some 510,000 acres), according to the latest figures from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).

The blaze, which has been raging since July 14 over a mountainous area near Lassen Volcanic National Park, is already the second largest fire ever registered in California, surpassed only by the August Complex fire last year, although that fire was actually 38 separate fires all burning in the same general area.

According to the latest figures from Cal Fire, the flames have destroyed more than 1,000 structures, of which 555 were homes, 131 were local businesses and the rest were “minor structures” such as watchtowers, sheds, and so on.

Despite the wide area it has covered and the destruction it has wrought – the Dixie fire being the blaze that has destroyed the 15th largest number of structures in California history – so far there have been no reports of fatalities.

In its latest report, Cal Fire said that the strong winds over the past few hours, as well as the increase in temperatures and the drop in humidity, have made firefighters’ efforts to control or extinguish the blaze substantially more difficult.

Nevertheless, they have been able to increase their containment of the fire from 25 percent on Tuesday to 30 percent on Wednesday.

Last week, the Dixie fire practically wiped out the town of Greenville, a small community of a little over than 1,000 residents located in Plumas County.

The investigation into the cause of the fire remains open but the main hypothesis is that the blaze started due to a problem with the electric grid.

According to documentation provided to the California Public Utilities Commission, a PG&E worker was repairing a problem with an electric line when he saw sparks from faulty circuit breakers or fuses at the top of a power tower set fire to the undergrowth below.

PG&E – or Pacific Gas & Electric – is the biggest provider of electricity in the United States and supplies energy to almost all of central and northern California.

The fire brings back bad memories to residents near Paradise, a city that was destroyed in 2018 by the deadliest wildfire in California history, a blaze in which 85 people died and which also began as a result of a PG&E line failure.

The high temperatures and lack of rain in recent months have moved the fire season forward significantly this year in California, which normally expects to deal with assorted fires between September and November, although this year fire season started in June.

In the neighboring state of Oregon, firefighters have almost fully contained the Bootleg fire, which broke out after a lightning strike on July 6 in the Fremont-Winema National Forest.

The flames burned 167,000 hectares (about 420,000 acres) over the course of several weeks, but at this point that fire is said to be 98 percent contained.


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