Fire engulfs Northern California town, leveling businesses
GREENVILLE, California (AP) - California's largest forest fire razed much of downtown and a few surrounding homes in a small northern California mountain community.
The Dixie Fire ripped through Greenville on Wednesday night, shattering shops and homes as the sky turned orange. A photographer commissioned by The Associated Press described how a gas station, hotel and bar were burned down.
"If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and MUST go now !!" The Plumas County Sheriff's office posted on Facebook on Wednesday.
The sheriff's department and Cal Fire did not immediately respond to messages.
The three-week-old fire has grown to over 1,108 square kilometers in the districts of Plumas and Butte.
Firefighters tried to protect the city 800 miles northeast of San Francisco by clearing debris from streets and marking dangers.
Pandora Valle, a spokeswoman for the US Forest Service, previously told the San Francisco Chronicle that "firefighters are fighting for the city of Greenville," but could not provide any further details about the damage.
The destruction came amid a warning from forecasters warning of hot, bone-dry conditions with winds of up to 40 miles / h. That could drive flames through wood, scrub, and grass, especially along the north and northeast sides of the giant Dixie Fire.
"I think we definitely have a tough few days ahead of us," said Shannon Prather of the U.S. Forest Service.
The fire brigade was able to save houses and hold long stretches of fire. But flames crossed the boundary lines in places on Tuesday, resulting in additional evacuation orders for about 15,000 people east of Lake Almanor, firefighters said.
The heat from the flames created a pyrocumulus cloud, a massive column of smoke that rose 30,000 feet (10,000 yards) into the air, said Mike Wink, a chief of the state fire department.
Dawn Garofalo watched the cloud grow from the west side of the lake, where she fled with a dog and two horses from a friend's property near Greenville.
“There is only one way in and one way out. I didn't want to be stuck up there if the fire came through, ”Garofalo said.
From her campsite at the bottom of the lake, she watched the fire on the horizon before sunrise. “The flames were huge. They must have been 500 meters high. Scary, ”she said.
The fire has threatened thousands of homes and destroyed 67 homes and other buildings since it broke out on July 14. It was contained 35%.
About 150 miles to the west, the lightning-triggered McFarland Fire threatened remote homes along the Trinity River in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The fire was only 5% contained. It had burned severely through nearly 65 square kilometers of drought-stricken vegetation.
Similar risky weather was expected across southern California, where heat warnings and warnings were issued for inner valleys, mountains and deserts for much of the week.
Heat waves and historic droughts related to climate change have made fighting forest fires in the American West difficult. Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier over the past 30 years, and the weather will continue to be more extreme and forest fires more frequent and more destructive.
More than 20,000 firefighters and support personnel fought 97 large, active forest fires that covered 7,560 square kilometers in 13 states, the National Interagency Fire Center said.
Montana had 25 active Large Flames on Tuesday, followed by Idaho at 21 and Oregon at 13. California had 11.
In Hawaii, firefighters took control of the 160 square kilometer Mana Road Fire, which evacuated thousands of people over the weekend and destroyed at least two homes on the Big Island.
Oregon's Bootleg Fire, the largest in the country at 1,676 square kilometers, was 84% contained. The firefighters were busy cleaning up hotspots and reinforcing fire lines.
"The crews are working tirelessly to ensure that we are as well prepared as possible for the extreme fire weather forecast for the next few days," says an update from the US Forest Service.
Corrected this story to show that the name of the fire in Hawaii is the Mana Road Fire, not the Nation Fire.
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