A growing number of homes and structures have been destroyed by the Dixie fire, which on Thursday continued to swell as crews struggled to gain a foothold on the flames.
More than 40 structures have burned in the monstrous fire, and another 10,700 remain under threat, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. At least 20 minor structures, such as outbuildings and sheds, have also gone up in flames.
At 221,504 acres, the multi-county fire is now the 13th largest wildfire in the state’s recorded history, according to Cal Fire, up from the No. 15 spot just days ago. It is burning an area larger than New York City.
For the third day in a row, the Dixie fire remains only 23% contained.
“It’s kind of hard to wrap our heads ... around a 220,000-acre fire,” Plumas National Forest Supervisor Chris Carlton said during an incident update Wednesday evening, noting that the fire’s perimeter was more than 80 miles. “That’s a lot of fire out there.”
Crews on Thursday are focused on laying containment lines and defending nearby communities, officials said, while up against increasingly challenging conditions.
Temperatures are expected to climb to the mid-80s in the coming days, and humidity levels are rapidly dropping, according to the National Weather Service.
Fire behavior analyst John Cook said the forecasted hot, dry weather indicated a likely increase in fire activity.
“We’re dealing with very critical fuel conditions right now — the fuels are much drier than they would be normally this time of year,” Cook said. “And when they’re dry, they’re much harder to contain.”
Much of the West has been plagued by extreme heat and drought because of the worsening climate crisis, which is drying vegetation and feeding massive fires earlier in the year. To date, 82 large fires have burned nearly 1.7 million acres across 13 states, the National Interagency Fire Center said.