The newly clear skies will allow more than two dozen helicopters and two tankers that have been on the ground to fly again and make it safer for ground crews to maneuver.
“In this kind of weather, fire activity will increase. But the good thing is that we can lift planes,” said fire spokesman Ryan Bain.
The winds were not expected to reach the fierce speeds that helped the fire explode in size last week. But they remained a concern for firefighters working in unprecedented conditions to protect thousands of threatened homes.
Fueled by powerful gusts and completely dry vegetation, the fire incinerated much of the small Greenville community last Wednesday and Thursday. At least 627 houses and other structures had been destroyed Monday and another 14,000 buildings were still under threat in the northern Sierra Nevada.
Damage reports are preliminary because assessment teams are unable to enter many areas, authorities said.
The Dixie fire, named for the highway where it started nearly four weeks ago, grew to an area of 765 square miles (1,980 square kilometers) Sunday night and was only 21% contained, according to the Department of Forestry and California firefighters. Protection. He had burned an area more than twice the size of New York City.
Four firefighters were taken to hospital on Friday after being struck by a fallen branch. Initially, more than 30 people were reported missing, but by Monday the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office had tallied all of them.
With smoke clearing above the eastern parts of the fire, crews that had been directly attacking the front lines would be forced to retreat and build containment lines further back, said Dan McKeague, a Forest Service fire information officer. from USA
The fire became the largest fire in California’s recorded history, topping the Creek Fire in the state’s central valley agricultural region last year.
The Dixie Fire is about half the size of the August Complex, a series of 2020 lightning fires in seven counties that were fought together and are considered by state officials to be California’s largest wildfire overall.
The cause of the fire was under investigation. Pacific Gas & Electric has said it may have arisen when a tree fell on one of its power lines. A federal judge ordered PG&E on Friday to provide details by Aug. 16 about the equipment and vegetation where the fire started.
Governor Gavin Newsom examined the damage in Greenville over the weekend and wrote on Twitter that “ our hearts ache for this city. ”
“ These are climate-induced wildfires and we must recognize that we have the capacity not only in the state but in this country to solve this, ” Newsom said on CNN.
Heat waves and historic drought linked to climate change have made wildfires more difficult to fight in the western United States. Scientists have said that climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the climate more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive. The fires in the West come as parts of Europe are also fighting large fires caused by completely dry conditions.
Northwest of the Dixie Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, hundreds of homes were still threatened by two fires that continued to grow. About a quarter of the McFarland fire was contained. New evacuation orders were issued Monday for residents near the Monument Fire, which was only 3% contained.
South of the Dixie fire, firefighters prevented further growth from the river fire, which broke out near the Colfax community on Wednesday and destroyed 68 homes.
Smoke from wildfires in the western US continues to flow into parts of Colorado and Utah, where air quality in many areas was rated unhealthy. Denver’s air quality improved Sunday, but smoke has made the air there and in Salt Lake City among the worst in the world.
California’s fire season is on track to beat last year’s season, which was the worst in the state’s recent recorded history.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 6,000 fires have destroyed more than 1,260 square miles (3,260 square kilometers) of land, more than triple the losses for the same period in 2020, according to state fire figures.
The raging California wildfires were among 107 large fires burning in 14 states, mostly in the west, where historic drought conditions have left land dry and ready for ignition.