Rain helped dampen the fire and lift spirits on the Dixie Fire today

Today’s rains weren’t measurable according to the Incident Command meteorologist assigned to the east zone of the Dixie Fire, but they were enough to mute the fire’s spread and lift spirits – at least for a little while.

The Dixie Fire is now 212,799 acres and is 23 percent contained. There are 4,000 people under an evacuation order. As of tonight, it was reported that there are 34 structures and 19 outbuildings destroyed. To find out if your home is among those that have been assessed so far, go to plumascounty.us and click on the Dixie Fire tab.

Now back to the weather, while deputy incident commander Chief Chris Waters said that while “today was very nice in terms of how comfortable it was, the underlying base conditions are still there.”

Nonetheless, Operations Section Chief John Goss that throughout the east zone, “some light precipitation helped slow the fire spread.” He addressed the various burnout operations that are underway including those to protect Quincy, Taylorsville, Greenville, Crescent Mills and Butterfly Valley and they are proceeding as planned. The bulk of the activity on the fire came after the rain stopped, and once again it was in the Bucks Lake Wilderness area. Crews there are putting in hand line, and plan to sleep there overnight and continue the work tomorrow.

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His counterpart on the west zone, Mike Wink, said that crews are in the Highway 70 corridor working with utility providers and Caltrans to make the roadway safe. The heel of the fire continues be in the mop up stage, and the lower left flank has been holding for three days. Farther up the left flank, Wink said it will take more time to strengthen the lines. He lauded the fact that local firefighters are working on that part of the fire, bringing their knowledge of the terrain, fuels and environment. Burnout operations continue along Humboldt Road and a great deal of effort is being put into securing this area of the fire. Securing this piece will help to secure Chester.

While a lot of attention is paid to the perimeter of the fire, Incident Commander Mike Minton addressed the Twain area. “There has been a lot of significant fire fighting around that community and we have had a lot of success,” he said, and added that very soon he hoped to be able to say that it was safe from forward fire progression.

There were no new evacuations  — mandatory or warnings — ordered on the fire today. Sheriff Todd Johns thanked evacuees for their patience and said it was “likely several days out before people could return home.” Shuttles for residents to retrieve items from their home might be possible at some point, but there are no definite plans.

Help is on the way for those who have been displaced or lost their homes. An account has been set up at Plumas Bank in conjunction with PCIRC for evacuees, and a processing site is being established for items to be donated. A local assistance center will also be set up by Cal OES.

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Johns addressed the mail and garbage issues that had been discussed during the Board of Supervisors meeting earlier in the day. He hoped that resolutions to both items could be announced tomorrow.

Plumas National Forest Chris Carlton addressed the magnitude of the Dixie Fire and noted that there were 18 cooperating agencies responding to the fire including the Red Cross. He visited the shelter today, and said that there were only 27 people there. “Want to make sure that everyone who needs help can get it,” he said.

Carlton also addressed the day’s rain. “We had some rain in camp and we felt optimistic and hopeful and then the rain left and smoke came back in.” He said, “That really resonated with me,” and then quoted Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”