Crews have been successful in keeping the fire out of Chester proper, including extinguishing hot spots. No structures have burned and Chester residents will be allowed to return home Aug. 13 at 11 a.m. Photo courtesy of Fire Department

Aug. 8: Dixie Fire grows to 463, 777 acres – now no. 2 in state history

It’s notoriety that no one in Plumas County wants — but the Dixie Fire is now the number two largest fire in state history, growing to 463,777 acres overnight. It remains 21 percent contained. But more than the acreage is the growing deeply personal toll that it is taking on local residents – particularly for those who have lost their homes and livelihoods.

The fire is being managed by Cal Fire, the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. The latter became involved when the fire burned into Lassen Volcanic National Park.

East Zone

Overnight smoke significantly reduced visibility making driving hazardous for firefighting crews. Smoke shading and higher relative humidity recovery have moderated fire activity along much of the line.

However, clearing skies on the northeast perimeter on Moonlight Peak have led to more dynamic fire behavior with fire backing down the slope. Crews attacked the fire direct and used heavy equipment to create containment. Firefighters will scout and verify containment and contingency lines along the fire perimeter to try to control the fire.

Fire managers are shifting personnel to cover priority areas, including securing the line to protect homes in Crescent Mills and Hunt Valley, as well as cutting line, laying hoses and conducting strategic firing operations to defend Westwood.

Jake Cagle’s morning briefing

Operations Section Chief Jake Cagle’s morning and evening briefings provide more specific information that is helpful for concerned residents.

He reported that everything remains in the fire’s footprint along the southern perimeter, but crews are still trying to lock off Silver Lake, which will probably occur in the next 24 hours. An extra crew has been added to help with this effort. This would help further protect Meadow Valley.

Just south of Taylorsville and into Crescent Mills, crews have worked to keep the fire out of Crescent Mills, with dozer line and backfiring.

There is now dozer line around Indian Valley into Pecks Valley.

What is referred to as the Moonlight finger of the fire remained active throughout the night. With the inversion lifting, Cagle said the area is going back into a severe weather pattern with increased fire behavior expected. The flip side is that aircraft will be able to aid in the firefight as the skies clear. The fire is nearing the Sheep Fire burn, which will provide some reprieve, but there is potential for the fire to sneak in between the Sheep and Walker fire scars, Cagle said and crews help to stave that off and slow the fire’s spread.

Firefighters were able to go direct on Mountain Meadows and tied that area into the southern end of the Sheep Fire. “Everything from Hauns Meadow to 147 is tied in,” he said. And the structure preparation is now complete on Highway 147.

Cagle will present another briefing tonight.

West Zone

Fire behavior overnight was moderate due to smoke inversion, warm temperatures, and poor relative humidity recoveries.  Smoke shading from fires in the region will reduce fire intensity, increasing the potential for crews to make headway on building containment lines. Firefighters continue to provide structure defense and reinforce containment lines. Damage assessment is ongoing.

No new information has been shared from the West Zone about overnight activity, but the following is what was known as of last night:

Chester: No structure loss in Chester proper; some structures lost at the Highway 89/36 junction

Almanor West: Two structures and one garage damaged or destroyed

Prattville: No structures lost

Hamilton Branch; Peninsula, East Shore: Structure preparation

Highway 36 to the west: Deer Creek Lodge, St. Bernard Lodge, and Black Forest all survived, though some other structures in the area were lost.

Canyon Dam: Destroyed

The West Zone will be updated as more information becomes available.