(Greenville) The gigantic Dixie Fire, which became the second largest fire in California history on Sunday, is expected to last at least ten days and scare away thousands while three residents are still missing.
Posted on Aug 9, 2021 at 7:24 am
Josh EDELSON Agence France-Presse
According to the latest report by the California Fire Department on Sunday, the fire had been in ruins on just over 198,000 acres in the north of this state since it left on July 13. It now covers an area larger than the size of Los Angeles.
“It was the exit from a war zone, as we see in the films,” Tami Kugler told AFP, sitting near a tent that was set up on an evacuation site where she fled Greenville after fleeing.
This city was completely devastated a few days ago and three people were still missing on Sunday.
“My neighborhood no longer exists – I don’t mean razed to the ground at all. The houses of everyone in this neighborhood who are important to me and who I love are gone, ”insists Tami Kugler. “I wasn’t insured,” she says.
California Governor Gavin Newsom walked through the ruins of the city on Saturday and expressed “deep appreciation” for the tireless work of the firefighters. He said authorities should devote more resources to forest management and fire prevention.
But “the droughts are much worse, it’s hotter than ever … we have to openly admit that these fires are climate-related,” he added.
The flames only grew bigger, fanned by searing heat, alarming drought, and persistent winds.
Wildfires are widespread in California – so common that sometimes locals wonder what else should be burning. However, due to climate change, this summer is particularly fierce with eleven fires raging across the state on Sunday.
Eight of the ten biggest fires of all time in California have burned since 2017. And even six since 2020, when the largest of them all – the August Complex – covering 417,000 acres, was destroyed.
The milder weather that weekend gave a little respite to the 5,000 firefighters fighting day and night against the fire, which was already bigger than the city of Los Angeles. Three of them were injured in action on extremely steep trails.
During the week, however, hot temperatures over 38 degrees Celsius are expected again, and the fire brigade assumes that the fire will not be extinguished until August 20.
Thousands of residents have fled the area, many are fleeing in makeshift camps – sometimes in simple tents – and often do not know whether their houses have escaped the flames. About 370 structures (houses and other buildings) have already been destroyed.
At an evacuation site near Susanville, exhausted families wait near their makeshift shelters and vehicles crammed with the few belongings that are hastily removed as they leave their homes in the face of the approaching flames.
Several towns and villages were destroyed and, according to the fire department, teams were on duty on Sunday to protect the small town of Crescent Mills, three miles from Greenville.
Despite repeated evacuation orders from the authorities, some residents continue to insist on fighting the fire themselves as they are anxious not to entrust the safety of their property to strangers.
According to a preliminary investigation, the fall of a tree on one of the thousands of power cables that crisscross the American countryside was the origin of the fire.
That power line belongs to Pacific Gas and Company (PG&E), a private operator that has already caused Camp Fire, a fire that nearly wiped the city of Paradise off the map and killed 86 people just a few kilometers away in 2018.