Tonight’s briefing on the Dixie Fire was the last for California Incident Management Team 4 as it transitions to Team 1 tomorrow. ” I think all of us would rather stay and see to this end,” said Incident Commander Rocky Opliger.
In his final address, Opliger said that the “impacts are staggering on this incident.” Sheriff Todd Johns said in his comments that the fire represents 27.5 percent of Plumas County. As of this evening the fire is 570,211 acres and is 31 percent contained.
Opliger recognized the loss of homes and businesses, and the number of people who have been evacuated. He thanked law enforcement and land management agencies for their work in trying to contain this fire and keep the communities safe. Opliger and Team 4 will go home for a couple of days of rest before they are assigned to another fire. “Again, we leave with a heavy heart,” he said.
Operations Section Chief Kyle Jacobson gave his last update and once again reiterated that through the south side of the fire, it is holding in its current footprint, and crews have been able to increase containment in the Crescent Mills area.
He said that at Keddie Point, which has been a difficult part of the fire, crews are now mopping up and securing the line. Same is true for the North Arm of Indian Valley, and crews are securing all of the line as it moves into Peters Creek. There is continuing work to build dozer line up Beardsley Grade.
Jacobson said that over the past couple of days, crews have seen a southeasterly burn into the Walker Fire scar. “As we move around Lone Rock, it continues to hold,” he said.
East Zone crews are working with West Zone crews to build line from Dyer Mountain to Mountain Meadow Reservoir to protect the East Shore, the Peninsula, Hamilton Branch, Clear Creek and Westwood. The West Zone is working from the Highway 36 side to protect those same communities as the fire pushes down from the north.
Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns acknowledged a couple of successes today: the ability of Mt. Hough Estates residents to return home (though it remains under an evacuation warning), and the beginning of the process to allow people to visit homes that have been destroyed by the fire. Residents can visit the plumascounty.us website and select the Dixie Fire Tab or they can call 530-283-6414 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. through Wednesday of this week.
He said that his dispatch center has been inundated with calls from people wanting to know when they can return home. “There’s a lot to this,” he said. He explained that a lot of the decisions are made considering active fire, hazardous trees, and other dangers, as well as available services such as water, sewer, power. “It is critical and important to me to get people back to their houses,” he said.
In Greenville for example, even if someone’s home hasn’t burned, there could be asbestos, lead, unburned fuels or more in the areas surrounding the structure. He said there’s a lot to mitigate and again pleaded with residents not to call the dispatch center with such questions.
He said he’s often asked if they could post timelines for communities to return, and responded “that didn’t work so well for us in Chester.” In the meantime, law enforcement continues to patrol all areas that are under a mandatory evacuation or warning. The animal control office has several teams going in and taking care of animals. Those who are missing animals or need assistance can call 283-3673, the 24-hour hotline.
Johns thanked the community and all those involved in working with this incident including the local EMS personnel. He also mentioned the Junior Livestock Auction that took place in Sierra Valley today. He was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the local youth and it was his understanding that they received donations from all over the world.
The Sheriff’s Office is still looking for one unaccounted for person — Ronald Avila of Greenville — though he may have relocated out of the area four years ago.
Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growden said that much of southwest and western portion of Lassen County is under an evacuation order or advisory. Warnings for the Janesville area expanded today based on predicted winds in coming days.
Contrary to a post on the Plumas National Forest Facebook Page signaling the end to regular East Zone community meetings, PNF Supervisor Chris Carlton, said, “We will keep the community meetings going.” He said that message was put out in error. “We remain committed to getting you current, accurate information,” he said.