California wildfire wreaks more destruction as temperatures rise

Dan Whitcomb, Reuters

Posted at Aug 12 2021 02:30 PM

The Dixie Fire, now over 200,000 acres, burns at night in Taylorsville, California, US, July 27, 2021.
The Dixie Fire, now over 200,000 acres, burns at night in Taylorsville, California, US, July 27, 2021. David Swanson, Reuters/File

LOS ANGELES - An enormous wildfire raging across Northern California for nearly a month has burned down another 550 homes, fire officials said Wednesday, becoming one of the most destructive in state history.

The Dixie Fire, which broke out on July 14 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains some 260 kms northeast of Sacramento, is the second largest in state history. Crews had contained only 30 percent of the blaze as of Wednesday evening.

Temperatures were expected to cross over 37.8 degrees Celsius in the coming days as a high pressure weather system, described by forecasters as a "heat dome," bakes the Pacific Northwest.

"High pressure continues to build over the incident and will be the dominant feature with predicted thunderstorms moving in this week," the California Department of Forestry and Fire protection said in an incident update.

The thunderstorms can rake the landscape with so-called dry lightning, igniting more flames across Northern California in forests and brush left brown and parched from years of drought.

The Dixie Fire has scorched more than 500,000 acres, making it by far the largest and most destructive of 11 wildfires burning across California, fought by nearly 10,000 personnel. Two firefighters and a civilian have been injured.

The blaze has now destroyed more than 1,000 single-family homes, along with hundreds of other structures. Flames roared through the historic mining town of Greenville last week, leaving its main street in smoldering ruins.

California, which typically experiences peak fire season later in the year, is on pace to suffer more burnt acres this year than last, the worst fire season on record.

The state's 5 largest wildfires in history have all occurred in the last 3 years, burning more than 2.5 million acres and destroying 3,700 structures.

The Dixie Fire is second in size only to last year's August Complex, which was comprised of several smaller fires that merged together to make one massive conflagration.

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