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Massive wildfire prompts new mandatory evacuation orders in Northern California


A total of 5,998 wildfires had burned over estimated 542,000 acres and damaged or destroyed 400 structures in California this year, according to official data. California and most of the U.S. West are in the grip of a severe drought of historic proportions.

A massive wildfire scorched over 253,000 acres (around 1,024 square km) in Northern California as of Tuesday morning, prompting new mandatory evacuation orders and warnings for local communities.

The fire raging in Plumas and Butte counties, dubbed Dixie Fire, was at 253,052 acres and 35 percent contained, said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) in an incident report Tuesday morning.

Officials said at least 7,144 structures were threatened by the fire and more than 5,100 fire personnel were battling the blaze.

The fire, which started on July 13, has destroyed 45 structures and 22 other minor structures to date. It's now the largest wildfire so far this year in California and the 11th largest wildfire in the history of the western U.S. state.

Extreme fire behavior is predicted due to drying conditions on Tuesday, according to the InciWeb, an interagency all-risk incident web information management system provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

Officials said that active fire with uphill runs, single tree torching, and spotting was expected.

"Winds and fire activity are expected to test established firelines on the perimeter. Evacuation zones have changed with new mandatory areas in Plumas County," the InciWeb noted, urging residents in evacuation warning areas to stay alert to conditions and remain prepared.

After reviewing the current position of the wildfire and receiving a recommendation from the operations division, the Plumas County Sheriff's Office issued new evacuation orders and warnings for residents in some communities near the fire zones Tuesday morning.

Firefighters participate in battling wildfire at the Angeles National Forest in Azusa, California, the United States, on July 31, 2020.

A total of 5,998 wildfires had burned over estimated 542,000 acres and damaged or destroyed 400 structures in California this year, according to the Cal Fire's 2021 Incident Archive. The state and most of the U.S. West are in the grip of a severe drought of historic proportions.

In 2020, over 9,900 fires burned over 4.2 million acres, more than 4 percent of the state's roughly 100 million acres of land, making it the largest wildfire season recorded in California's modern history. A total of 33 people were killed and 10,488 structures were damaged or destroyed by wildfires last year.

"While wildfires are a natural part of California's landscape, the fire season in California and across the West is starting earlier and ending later each year. Climate change is considered a key driver of this trend," said the Cal Fire on the agency's official website.

"Warmer spring and summer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and earlier spring snowmelt create longer and more intense dry seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire," the agency noted.

Published : August 04, 2021

By : xinhua