Second-largest fire in California history is far from contained
By David Villafranca
Los Angeles, Aug 13 (EFE).- The Dixie Fire, the second largest in California history, turned a month old on Friday as progress toward containment remained slow despite the efforts of nearly 6,200 firefighters.
The blaze erupted a few hours before sunset on July 13 in a mountainous area near Lassen National Forest in the northeastern part of the state, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
As of mid-day Friday, the Dixie Fire had consumed more than 209,000 hectares (517,945 acres) in Plumas, Butte, Lassen and Tehama counties and was only 31 percent contained, compared with 30 percent 48 hours earlier.
The combination of high temperatures, low humidity and warm winds that has made firefighters’ task more difficult for the last few days is expected to persist through the weekend.
Cal Fire said that while the forecast shows an increased chance of storms, any benefits from rain or higher humidity could be negated by the accompanying lightning.
Though the flames have destroyed more than 1,100 buildings, including 584 residences, the fire is not blamed for any deaths or injuries.
Last week, the Dixie Fire virtually wiped out Greenville, a town of around 1,000 residents in Plumas County.
As big as it is, the Dixie Fire has a long way to go to equal last year’s August Complex Fire, which burned more than 417,000 hectares.
The eight largest fires on record of California have occurred within the last four years, reflecting how climate change has dramatically increased the chance of massive wildfires in the Golden State.
Traditionally, the California fire season extends from September through November, but this year’s first blazes broke out in June. And the Thomas Fire, which destroyed 114,000 hectares, began in December 2017.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the Dixie Fire, but California utility regulators received a report stating that an employee of Pacific Gas & Electric who was repairing a line saw sparks from worn-out fuses on a power pylon spark flames in the undergrowth.
PG&E, the largest electric utility in the United States, supplies power to the vast majority of households and businesses in central and northern California.
The Dixie Fire is evoking memories of the 2018 blaze that killed 85 people in nearby Paradise, California, for which PG&E was found responsible. EFE dvp-arc/dr