Air attack helicopters rushed to the fire front yesterday to battle the Dixie Fire as they battle gusting wind conditions, low visibility due to smoke, and unpredictable terrain. Photo: Dixie Fire PIO / Hector Vasquez

Dixie Fire burns 705,000 acres as of Friday evening, remains at 35 percent containment

Officials are preparing for upcoming winds to test constructed lines tomorrow, however, if smoke continues to sock in the area, it may dampen the gusts.

As of Friday evening, Aug. 20, the Dixie Fire has burned 705,000 acres. It remains at 35 percent containment.

In Lassen County, the Dixie Fire has destroyed 52 structures, and seven have sustained damage. All Lassen evacuation orders and warnings remain in place.

According to Mark Brunton, Operations Section Chief during the Friday evening West Zone video update, crews continue to mop up the firing operation on the Susanville branch of the fire to ensure its cooled before the winds. He added the operation is holding and doing nicely. Crews have also been direct on the area that threatened Susanville community a few days ago.

“Although it shows red on the map it does not mean there is a flaming front,” Brunton said.

He added there was no impact to the Lake Forest area at this point, and there was no direct threat.

Around Janesville area, the crews continue to build lines and put contingency lines on the Escarpment to 395, four dozer blade wide. Today, the fire did stand up as the smoke lifted, and there was activity on the flanks of the fire. The winds may increase activity in the area and challenge the lines. For the most part, the fire behavior analyst shared, the activity is on the top of the Escarpment, with some on the lines on either side.

There’s not a lot of heat showing in the Westwood area, but crews are ready for any spot fires. The firing operation on Highway 36 continues to hold and creates a “closed door” to anything coming from the north.

Cal Fire Lassen Modoc Unit Chief noted the Susanville and Janesville areas would continue to be areas of focus as the winds test lines, and said crews were preparing in anticipation of the wind event in areas like Fredonyer Summit.

Additionally, Lassen County Sheriff Dean Growdon again noted the local orders and warnings remain in place, and many factors go into the consideration to reduce orders.

He referenced for the Westwood area, adding they want to make sure the area is safe from fire threat, has power, and access to a medical facility in case the fire closes Highway 36.

He added anyone who needs any assistance getting to items like medical equipment, prescriptions or to check on their animals in the evacuation zone should call 257-6121.

According to the written update:

Dixie Fire West Zone: Certain areas of the Dixie Fire burned actively throughout the day. Fire suppression on all main areas of the fire were very successful with containment lines are holding strong. Favorable conditions allowed for aggressive firefighting where terrain and opportunities presented themselves. Mop-up continued along certain areas of the fire to mitigate any potential threat from weather. Management teams continue to work together to share resources as needed when priority fire suppression is needed. Southwest winds will continue on Saturday, as another dry cold front moves across the region. Wind gusts are likely, along with enhanced fire weather concerns. Damage assessment is ongoing, and the number of damaged and destroyed structures may change as teams are able to access the fire area safely. There were new Evacuation Orders issued today.

Northern California has experienced large fire activity and will likely experience an extended fire season. Fires burning in northern California are exhibiting extreme fire growth based on critical fuel conditions. The prioritization of resources is always based on life, property, and natural resources. Under these drought conditions, wildfires are burning rapidly with extreme severity and have traveled up to 8 miles in a single day. Fire spread is fuel driven and does not depend on wind speed, as we have seen in previous years. Firefighters are experiencing conditions never seen before, such as increased spread rates, spotting and active nighttime burning. We coordinate very closely with the US Forest Service and CalOES for our local and out of state partners, to ensure resource availability.

Dixie Fire East Zone: Aircraft has been able to work most of the day in the northern portion of the fire. They have been dropping both water and retardant on the eastern side of the fire near Janesville to limit progression towards Milford. The fire has moved downhill and has spotted in multiple locations across the Genesee Valley Road. Crews in the area are doing point protection and defending lines previously created around homes. Aerial retardant drops continued over the inaccessible Devil’s Punchbowl spot fire as visibility allows. The spot fire below Grizzley has grown significantly, and dozer line construction is continuing along the Ridge. Dozer lines were completed around the spot fire near the communication tower in the Dyer Mountain area to limit further movement to the Northwest.