Dixie Fire becomes largest single wildfire in California’s history

Governor Gavin Newsom visited the devastated town of Greenville on Saturday, as a Federal Judge ordered Pacific Gas & Engery to release information about the origin of the blaze

Bevan Hurley
Sunday 08 August 2021 18:22 BST
California wildfires cause sky to glow an eerie Martian red

The Dixie Fire has exploded in size to become the largest single wildfire ever recorded in California.

The blaze had burnt through 463,477 acres of land in northern California by Sunday morning, according to Fire CA.

The largest active blaze in the United States has grown by more than 100,000 acres since Thursday and is only 21 per cent contained.

Dixie has destroyed 268 homes, almost wiping the historic town of Greenville off the map. Five residents remain unaccounted for, according to the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office.

Fire CA records have confirmed the Dixie Fire is now the largest single, continuous wildfire in Californian history.

Only the August Complex in 2020, a conflagration of fires which burnt through more than one million acres across six counties in the north of the state, is recorded as destroying a greater land area.

Dixie has overtaken the second largest fire in state history, 2018’s Mendocino Complex.

Smoke from the more than 100 active wildfires currently ablaze across the United States caused Denver to record the worst air quality in the world on Saturday.

On Sunday, 8,574 firefighters were deployed across the state to fight 11 major wildfires and complexes.

Attention has begun to turn to the role Pacific Gas & Electric may have played in starting the blaze.

The official cause remains under investigation, but on Friday US District Judge William Alsup ordered the utility company to disclose information about a tree that fell on one of its lines close to the origin of the fire.

California Governor Gavin Newsom (R) looks at a burned vehicle alongside Assistant Region Chief for Cal Fire Curtis Brown (L) in downtown Greenville on Saturday
California Governor Gavin Newsom (R) looks at a burned vehicle alongside Assistant Region Chief for Cal Fire Curtis Brown (L) in downtown Greenville on Saturday (AFP via Getty Images)

PG&E has previously stated that one of its lines may have caused the start of the Dixie and Fly fires, which have since merged.

“PG&E’s responses will not be deemed as an admission by PG&E that it caused any fire, but they will serve as a starting point for discussion,” Judge Alsup, who is based in San Francisco, wrote.

A spokesperson for PG&E told the Washington Post they would comply with the order and respond by the deadline of 16 August.

On Saturday, Governor Gavin Newsom visited Greenville to survey the damage wrought by the blaze.

“Our hearts ache for this town,” Governor Newsom, who is facing a recall vote, said on Twitter.

“Greenville – though this moment may seem insurmountable, we’ll be there to help you rebuild.”

Climate change is increasing the threat of wildfires, warming temperatures, disrupting seasonal rain and melting the snow pack.

Nearly 90 per cent of California is in an extreme drought, exacerbating the spread and destruction of wildfires.

Cool weather was helping to stem the spread of the fire on Sunday.

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