Saturday morning, a milestone in fighting two of Northern California's most pressing wildfires — the Dixie Fire and Caldor Fire — was achieved: successfully containing at least 60% of each blaze.
This wildfire season has proven especially ominous in how it’s mirrored last year’s history-making one. We've already seen the largest single-source wildfire in California’s history (which could soon reach "gigafire" status as it nears a million acres in size), as well as record-shattering drought levels. And we've even seen the return of orange skies to some parts of Northern California.
Today, more than 13,490 personnel remain assigned to 13 active large wildfires. To date, more than 2.2 million acres have burned statewide. Get the latest on these incidents at: https://t.co/jBh7Rim5k6 pic.twitter.com/RBms4LafDq— CAL FIRE (@CAL_FIRE) September 11, 2021
But in a situationally positive turn of events, CAL Fire reported earlier today that the Dixie and Caldor Fires are each over 60% contained. More specifically: The Dixie Fire is currently 62%, while the Caldor Fire is about 60% contained.
This news is also a good time to dive into some firefighting lingo.
"Contained fires" are those that have been fully enclosed by control lines; these are around any related spot fires. Though a contained fire might still burn, it's not likely to spread. So when we hear that fire is 60% contained, but not designated as a contained fire, it means that control lines — constructed or natural barriers used to halt wildfires from spreading — surround at least 60% of the blaze.
"Controlled fires," however, are not just contained — but have been extinguished outside control lines and along their perimmerts, as well. Any hot spots which could pose a threat along these lines have been cooled down. Having a controlled fire is the end goal for any fire suppression strategy.
The Caldor Fire still appears to be slowing down... something that can't be said about the Dixie Fire. Before the weekend, on-site firefighters contended with strong winds which whipped up fifty-foot flames and made for even worse smoke conditions. It's scenes like that which leave little doubt that the Dixie Fire could well become the Calfirona's largest wildfire to date in the coming week (or weeks).
If California’s increasingly more severe wildfires have taught us anything as of late, it's that we need all understand that the climate crisis is, in fact, real — and will only get worse, should we remain complacent. And we should all, too, have our emergency kits well-stocked and at the ready.
Photo: A chimney remains a home that was destroyed by the Caldor Fire on September 1, 2021 in Twin Bridges, California. The Caldor Fire has burned over 200,000 acres, destroyed hundreds of structures and is currently 20 percent contained. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)