The fire has become the largest single wildfire in the state’s history, according to FOX 2 of the Bay Area.
“Our hearts ache for this town,” Newsom tweeted along with a photo of burned rubble that was once the Greenville post office. “Greenville—though this moment may seem insurmountable, we’ll be there to help you rebuild.”
$150 million slashed
The governor, who faces a recall election next month over issues including his handling of the coronavirus, said he planned to overhaul wildfire prevention efforts when he was first elected in 2019 but a June report said he misrepresented the scope and success of forest management projects, according to NPR.
The CapRadio and the California Newsroom investigation also found the governor cut funding for fire prevention by $150 million.
Newsom claimed that 90,000 acres of forest were treated with prescribed burns, forest thinning or other prevention efforts but only 12,000 acres were actually treated, the state’s own data showed, according to Scott Rodd who broke the story for CapRadio.
Rodd told NPR Newsom has declined interview requests from CapRadio but the head of Cal Fire, Thom Porter, said his department took the blame for the governor’s misstatements over a lack of communication.
Rodd said Porter added, “it’s hard to prevent future fires when there are current fires going on, especially in a year like last year, when you had a record number of blazes going at once.”
Recall challenger Kevin Faulconer, a former San Diego mayor, criticized Newsom’s handling of wildfires Saturday.
“#DixieFire is now the largest in CA history. Greenville tragically destroyed last night,” he tweeted. “Gavin Newsom’s failed ideas increase the danger of these fires. We need major fuel reduction, better #fire roads, and robust evacuation routes for every community. War footing. #wildfires.”
The Dixie Fire is the latest in a string of devastating wildfires in the state over the last few years spread by record heat, dry weather and strong winds.
The fire has destroyed hundreds of homes and leveled much of the small town of Greenville, around 150 miles north of Sacramento.
Greenville’s roughly 1,000 residents were urged to evacuate Wednesday as the flames closed in and burned down various wooden buildings, some of which were more than 100 years old.
The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office warned residents Wednesday evening, “If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!!”
Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss called the destruction “our biggest nightmare.”
“The Dixie Fire burnt down our entire downtown. Our historical buildings, families homes, small businesses, and our children’s schools are completely lost,” Goss wrote on Facebook Wednesday. “Every square inch of downtown holds countless memories for each member of our small community and ample amount of history from our ancestors.”
No injuries or deaths were immediately reported, but the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office said Friday evening that it is still working to get in touch with eight unaccounted-for individuals.
Dixie is the largest active fire in California at 446,723 acres and only 35% containment as of Saturday afternoon. More than 5,000 personnel are working to fight the fire. Pacific Gas & Electric said last month that the fire may have started when a tree fell on one of its power lines.
There were 17 active wildfires throughout the state on Saturday, according to Cal Fire.
Some scientists blame climate change for the increase in wildfires over the past few decades. A 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that “observed warming and drying have significantly increased fire-season fuel aridity, fostering a more favorable fire environment across forested systems.”
Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report.