California’s 2nd biggest wildfire keeps growing


California’s second largest wildfire added another 22,000 acres to its destructive toll on Friday.

One month since it began, the insatiable Dixie Fire has now consumed 540,581 acres and destroyed 1,120 structures with nearly 15,000 more still under threat, Cal Fire reported on Saturday morning. The massive vegetation fire, which is burning in the remote upper reaches of Plumas, Tehama, Lassen and Butte counties, remained stuck at 31% containment as fire crews contended with erratic winds and no shortage of dry fuels to keep the fire fed.

State fire officials have not given a date for when they expect full containment.

Isolated thunderstorms kept firefighters on their toes Friday, when strong gusts battered the fire east and south into the footprint of 2007’s Moonlight Fire. The fire was particularly active around Keddie Point, Dyer Mountain and Wilcox Valley, where fire crews worked to mitigate the threat to homes.

Fire crews faced the the prospect of ground lightning strikes and triple-digit temperatures as they worked to insulate the area of Janesville on Saturday.

The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office added Genesee Valley, an unincorporated area known for its valleys and buffalo and cattle ranches, to a long list of areas under mandatory evacuation orders. The communities of Seneca and Greenville were also on that list. Springs of Hope Church in Quincy, Lassen Community College and Lassen High School in Susanville, and Holy Family Catholic Church in Portola were acting as shelters.

A number of groups and volunteers were organizing a distribution event to provide groceries, hot meals, hygiene kits, toys and hot meals to fire victims at a Les Schwab tire store in Quincy on Sunday morning.

In Tehama County, Mill Creek, south of Lassen Volcanic Park, fell under a mandatory evacuation order due to an immediate threat to life around 4 p.m. Friday.

The Dixie Fire is behind only the August Complex Fire in terms of size. Last year’s mega-wildfire devoured more than 1 million acres across seven counties in upper Northern California.

No deaths have been attributed to the Dixie Fire, which has destroyed more than 596 homes, damaged 45 more and left three emergency responders with injuries.

Cal Fire said it’s one of 10 large, active wildfires that have already burned more than 1 million acres this year.

The National Weather Service was forecasting more haze for the Bay Area from the moving smoke on Saturday.