Sat. Oct 16th, 2021

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A firefighter continues to maintain the Dixie line of fire near Taylorsville, California, USA, on August 10, 2021. REUTERS / David Swanson / File Photo

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By Fred Greaves

POLLOCK PINES, Calif. (Reuters) – California’s wildfire crisis escalated on Tuesday as strong resurgent winds fueled the state’s biggest conflagration, driving flames from a smaller, separate fire in a rural mountain community and caused widespread precautionary shutdowns.

Already the second largest fire in California recorded, the Dixie fire that occurred since mid-July in the rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range northeast of San Francisco had charred 604,000 acres of wood and dried bushes since dawn. , according to the California Department. Forest and fire protection (Cal Fire).

That figure rose 34,000 acres from the previous day, making it one of the biggest growth spikes in 24 hours since the first day of last month.

Doug Ulibarri, a spokesman for the Dixie incident command, attributed the increase to extreme winds that exploded Monday night in much of northern California. But he said containment lines cut by strike crews about a third of the perimeter of the Dixie remained largely overnight, despite widening the overall footprint of the fire.

Some 1,200 homes and other structures have been lost due to the fire, but another 16,000 buildings were classified as threatened, with evacuation estimates ranging from 12,000 to 28,000 residents.

The Dixie is the largest by far dozens of fires roaring in the western United States on a highly incendiary summer that experts see as a symptom of climate change.

A much smaller flame emerged Tuesday as one of California’s main threats of wildfires this week as strong winds pushed the flames from the so-called Caldor Fire, about 65 miles east of Sacramento, to the mountain village of El Dorado County, Grizzly Flats.

Cal Fire said two civilians were seriously injured during the rushed evacuations in the area in the early hours of Tuesday and that an unspecified number of structures were seen burning in flames.

The Sacramento Bee reported that property losses in Grizzly Flats, a community of about 1,200 residents, included an elementary school, a church and a post office.

The California governor’s emergency services office put the total number of people displaced by the Caldor fire at more than 11,000 as of Tuesday night, with mandatory evacuation orders issued for several communities. , including Pollock Pines and Somerset.

The blasts of the Dixie and Caldor flames became the largest company in the state, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E (NYSE :)), which initiated deliberate power outages throughout Northern California by reduce the risk of fire caused by possible wind damage to transmission lines.

The company cited sustained wind forecasts reaching 40 miles per hour, with higher gusts in mountainous and foothill areas, as well as dry leaf vegetation and low humidity levels.

Preventive shutdowns were expected to disrupt electricity service to 51,000 homes and businesses across 18 counties, PG&E said. The company said it expected winds to subside on Wednesday, which will allow service to be restored in the next 24 hours.

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