“It’s just intense fire behavior, and it’s not what we’re used to,” said Jake Cagle, a fire official.,


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‘Leave now!’ a California town is told as the Dixie Fire shows no signs of slowing down.

A firefighter saving an American flag as flames from the Dixie Fire consumed a home on Wednesday in Greenville, Calif.Credit…Josh Edelson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Aug. 5, 2021, 6:40 a.m. ET

Portions of a small Northern California town were engulfed by the Dixie Fire on Wednesday evening, leaving stretches of the community unrecognizable and covered in rubble.

Greenville, Calif. — with a population of about 800 about 150 miles north of Sacramento — was placed under a mandatory evacuation order on Monday. By Wednesday night, amid worsening weather conditions, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office had underscored the warning: “If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you must leave now!!” county officials said on Facebook. “If you remain, emergency responders may not be able to assist you.”

The Dixie Fire, California’s largest wildfire this year, has burned more than 306,000 acres and was only 35 percent contained by Thursday morning. At least 45 structures have been burned since the fire started on July 14. Its cause remains under investigation.

Jake Cagle, an operations section chief for California Incident Management, said in a fire briefing late Wednesday night that some residents had chosen to stay.

“These are not the normal fires anymore,” Mr. Cagle said. “It’s just intense fire behavior, and it’s not what we’re used to.”

The current fire season, spurred on by months of drought and blistering heat waves, has affected dozens of communities across the West. The Dixie fire is one of 96 burning in the United States, including 11 California and 24 in Montana, according to federal wildfire data. The Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon is the largest wildfire so far this year in the country, having burned more than 400,000 acres. It was so intense, it generated its own weather.

While fire officials have yet to confirm the extent of the damage in Greenville, photographs circulating on Twitter from news agencies and others showed buildings along Main Street and Highway 89 burned to the ground and heavy smoke clouding the skies. An Associated Press photographer who was in Greenville said multiple historic buildings and dozens of homes had been destroyed.

“From my understanding, we lost everything in Greenville,” Teresa J. Clark, a resident who was escorted out, told The Paradise Post, a local newspaper.

Firefighters had been working to protect buildings in Greenville, according to Cal Fire, and aircraft were also working to support ground efforts where visibility allowed.

A red flag warning, indicating conditions are ripe for increased risk of fire danger, was in effect for areas around the Sacramento Valley and points farther north, including Plumas County, through Thursday, the National Weather Service said. Winds gusts up to 35 m.p.h. were also expected, with single-digit humidity.