September 18, 2021

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Several people missing as historic California wildfire rages – Axios

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Several people were missing as the Dixie Fire, the biggest wildfire in the U.S., tore through Northern California communities, authorities said Saturday.

Details: Evacuation orders were in effect for several Sierra Nevada mountain communities, as the third-largest blaze in California’s history continued to threaten homes. Greg Hagwood, a Plumas County supervisor, said some residents under evacuation orders “who have guns” told law enforcement: “‘Get off my property and you are not telling me to leave,'” per the Los Angeles Times.

  • The Pulmas County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement officers were trying to confirm the whereabouts of five people, two of whom had been reported safe but no official contact was made.
  • Four are residents from the fire-devastated Greenville, the other from Chester. Both Plumas County towns have in recent days been threatened by the blaze. The damage to buildings in Greenville has been particularly bad.
  • The fire was also raging across Butte, Lassen, and Tehama counties.

Threat level: Fire activity in the west zone overnight was “minimal due to smoke inversion and better overnight relative humidity recovery,” per a statement from Cal Fire.

  • But “fuel moisture remains historically low and has caused difficulty in suppressing the fire spread,” the statement added.
  • In the east, cooler temperatures, better relative humidity and calmer winds “significantly reduced fire behavior,” enabling firefighters to complete structural protection efforts, according to Cal Fire.

By the numbers: The Dixie Fire has burned across almost 447,000 acres and was 21% contained as of Saturday.

  • Cal Fire said Saturday that 184 structures had been confirmed destroyed, including over 40 overnight. Most of the damage was in the Gold mining-era town of Greenville.
  • Chester saw eight buildings destroyed or damaged.

Context: The U.S. West in the grip of a severe drought — the worst to hit the region so far this century, per Axios’ Andrew Freedman

  • Studies show human-caused climate change is driving an increase in the likelihood and severity of heat waves and droughts and, consequently, wildfires, Freedman notes.

Go deeper: Judge says PG&E must explain role in Dixie Fire

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