The massive Dixie Fire has exploded and is now the largest wildfire currently burning in the United States and the third-largest in recorded California history. People living in the areas of Northern California threatened by the blaze are facing a harrowing weekend of uncertainty as at least eight people are missing and the Dixie Fire threatens more than 10,000 buildings in the northern Sierra Nevada. At least 31,000 people have been evacuated.
The monster fire is raging in four counties, has burned through 447,000 acres, and is only 21 percent contained. Veteran firefighters are struggling to battle the blaze as dry conditions and heavy winds combined to create a blaze that moves quickly and behaves erratically.
The Dixie Fire pretty much destroyed the historic town of Greenville, including some wooden buildings that were more than a century old, earlier this week and continued to spread. “There have been times during the fire when pretty much every time that an ember would spot and land in grass, it was almost guaranteed to ignite and start another spot fire,” said Rick Carhart, public information officer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. There was some optimism that better weather conditions, including higher humidity and slightly milder temperatures, would help firefighters combat the blaze Saturday.
Even though no deaths have been reported yet in the Dixie Fire, authorities are worried about residents who are defying evacuation orders. Some have even met law enforcement officers with weapons. Those who refuse to leave are asked to at least provide information on family members who can be notified if they die.
All the fires raging in the area have filled the sky leading some parts of Northern California to report the worst air quality in the world in recent days as the state looks set to surpass last year, which was the worst fire season in recent recorded state history. More than 6,000 fires have burned through more than 1,260 square miles of land since the start of 2021, which is three times greater than in the same period of last year.