Since starting July 14, the Dixie Fire has grown to over 181,289 acres in size — or roughly an area six times the acreage of San Francisco. And it's still only 19% contained.
Through a combination of drought conditions and combustible organic ground material, this year's fire season is already set to be a historic one. (For the record: It's still outpacing last year's hellacious wildfire season.) Over the past ten days, the Dixie Fire has emerged as the largest fire in Northern California this year, thus far.
Now, after burning over 181,000 acres, the yet-contained (and possibly PG&E-related blaze) is threatening nearby towns Twain and Quincy.
Even on a Saturday, more than 6,200 firefighters are on the front lines battling 7 major wildfires in California.— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) July 24, 2021
You can help them by ensuring your extra cautious outdoors to prevent sparking a wildfire. Learn more at https://t.co/9pM4R3wkVT. pic.twitter.com/xPtBNWxPw2
The Dixie Fire's pyrocumulonimbus clouds — localized storm clouds created by intense heat from the earth’s surface; both wildfires and active volcanoes are known for creating these atmospheric anomalies — have not only created hostile weather conditions inside the burn area, but have also made it difficult for air tankers to access the area.
In a recent report from CAL FIRE, the government agency noted that the reduced visibility has hampered fire suppression strategies from above; the report, however, noted that some helicopters were still able to make water drops during the day.
Also, there have now been at least ten structures destroyed from the blaze; another ten have been reported damaged; some 1,510 structures are still threatened by the fire.
Pyrocumulonimbus clouds are thunder clouds created by intense heat from the Earth’s surface. The intense heat that results in the vigorous updraft comes from wildfires. #DixieFire #flyfire @NWSSacramento @CAL_FIRE @NWS_IMET_OPS @NWS pic.twitter.com/53nsRmQj2h— SoCalFirePhoto (@SoCalFirePhoto) July 24, 2021
Per KPIX, Cal Fire Operation chief Mike Wink has said the nearby spot fires are growing rapidly — well exceeding previous estimates.
“That spot fire outpaced all our modeling,” he said. “It took what we thought it would do in eight hours. It tripled that in two hours.”
Since then, that "spot fire" has been dubbed the Fly Fire, which had grown to approximately 1,600 acres as of Friday evening. As of Saturday afternoon, the wildfire has grown substantially in size to 2,800 with only 5% containment.
What's perhaps even more worrisome is how premature these dry conditions are happening this year, which we wouldn't normally see for at least another two or three months.
“We are in conditions we would not see until late September or October…right now we are in mid-July,” Wink continues. “That means that all these fuels that are on the ground, particularly the large dead fuels, are already at critical levels and fully available to burn unimpeded.”
To stay up to date with evacuation orders and the fire's progress, visit fire.ca.gov/incidents/2021/7/14/dixie-fire for daily updates.
*We will continue to monitor the progress of the Dixie Fire and Fly Fire and report any significant updates.
Top Photo: Getty Images/venusvi