The western edge of the Dixie Fire is visible from the Greenville Wye looking down toward the canyon at the closed Highway 70 on July 20. Photo by Mari Erin Roth

The Dixie Fire – no changes in evacuation orders at this time

Those who tuned into this evening’s Dixie Fire briefing hoping to learn more specifics about the fire might have come away disappointed. There’s a lot of fire to discuss in a community-style meeting that covers 61,376 acres  and spans two counties — Butte and Plumas —  and two jurisdictions — Cal Fire and the USFS.

Twelve hours is a long time to go between the 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. briefings as communities throughout Plumas County watch ominous towers of smoke rise above their towns. During tonight’s briefing it was announced that efforts were underway to share more information. The situation might improve as well when a second command team arrives to help manage this fire. A second incident command would be established in Plumas County, most likely in Quincy.

Following is some of the information that was shared this evening. The fire is 15 percent contained and has 3,345 personnel assigned to it, with more on the way.

Meterologist Julia Ruthford reiterated her forecast — the pattern is transitioning back to warm and dry weather, with afternoon southwest winds that increase throughout the day and then reverse at night. It’s a typical summer pattern except in the drainages where the winds swirl and are more unpredictable. Humidities will remain low. Hot, dry weather, low humidities and wind combine for critical fire weather.

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Chief Tony Brownell  said it was another active day for the fire as it continued to push north, but the bottom portion of the fire is holding well and crews remain in the mop up stage.

Crews in the other area of the fire are fighting the fire and the conditions. Brownell reiterated that public and firefighting safety trumps other considerations. “We are putting this fire out we just have to do it timely and safely,” he said.

In Plumas County concern continues for Bucks Lake/Meadow Valley where the fire is advancing, albeit more slowly. Those areas remain under mandatory evacuations.

The fire is also advancing on the Canyon Dam and West Shore areas of Lake Almanor. Those areas are under an evacuation warning. Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns said that residents should be vigilant. In response to a question about where those residents would evacuate, he said that the center would be in Chester. However, if the West Shore were evacuated, then Chester itself would be put under an advisory. The fire is currently about 20 miles from Lake Almanor.

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When asked if there was any threat to East Almanor, Chief Brownlee said not at this time. He was also asked if  the fire scar at Butt Lake would help slow the fire. Brownlee said that it would and crews would be using the lines that were put into place to stop the Chips Fire. “Old burn scars tell us a lot,” he said about how to proceed on a fire.

Both Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns and Butte County Sheriff Kory Honea said that evacuation statuses have not changed since yesterday.

But Johns did address the communities of the West Shore of Lake Almanor, as well as Greenville and Crescent Mills. He said residents will notice increased fire traffic with vehicles and crew. “They are being sent as a precaution,” he said.

In response to a question about how Greenville would evacuate if Highway 89 were to close, Johns said it would depend on what is occurring, but Antelope Lake has been discussed as an alternate route. Johns added that he would hope to issue evacuation orders in advance of any major highway closing. Although Crescent Mills and Greenville aren’t under a direct threat currently, he advised residents to be prepared.

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Johns reiterated as he did last night that at this time there is no threat to the Quincy area.

Individuals wanted to know about structures destroyed in the Canyon. Brownlee said that assessment teams would be called in to document the losses, and the information would be released once the homeowners were made aware of the situation. He did confirm that structures had been lost but had no further information available.

Another community meeting will be held via zoom and on Facebook tomorrow at 7 p.m.