A massive California wildfire continued to surge Monday, burning nearly half a million acres and forcing thousands from their homes, becoming the second largest fire in state history.
The Dixie Fire has burned 489,287 acres in northern California with only 21% contained, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
The fire, which has been active for 26 days, has burned over 500 buildings and threatens another 14,000, according to The Washington Post. The wildfire ripped through Greenville, California, on Wednesday, and authorities are trying to keep the flames away from the neighboring town of Crescent Mills. (RELATED: Deadly Wildfires Spread Across Western US)
Dry weather and intense heat have allowed for active fire behavior, Cal Fire said.
“We’re seeing fire activity that even veteran firefighters haven’t seen in their careers,” Cal Fire spokesman Edwin Zuniga told the Post. “So we’re just in really unchartered territory.”
Over 5,000 firefighters are combating the blaze, which has yet to claim any fatalities, according to Cal Fire.
The Dixie Fire surpassed the 2018 Mendocino Complex Fire and now is the state’s second-largest, only behind the 2020 August Complex Fire, which burned over 1 million acres, destroyed over 900 buildings and claimed one life, in northern California, according to Cal Fire.
The Dixie Fire’s cause is currently unknown while the August Complex Fire was triggered by lightning, according to the Incident Information Systems.
Hanna Malak, a spokesperson for the American Red Cross, told the Post that tens of thousands of people have had to leave their homes, forcing organizations to run 15 emergency shelters.
“Everybody’s scattered and scared,” Brian Maldonado, an employee at a Greenville local store, told the Washington Post.
“Everything in our lives is upside down,” Maldonado’s wife, Desiree Maurer, told the Washington Post. “And we have it good. There are people right now in their cars, and they don’t know where to go.”
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