Ruby Mountain Hotshots prepare a long hose along an area where they've scraped some of the vegetation clear. Photo courtesy of InciWeb

Dixie Fire burns 917,579 acres, 59 percent contained Tuesday

The Dixie Fire continues to challenge firefighters as it forced the temporary closures of both Highway 44 near Bogard and Highway 395 yesterday.

As of Tuesday morning, Sept. 7, both roads were reopened. The fire has grown to 917,579 acres and is 59 percent contained.

“The Dixie Fire kicked up tonight as most everyone seen,” the Doyle Fire Protection District wrote Monday night. “It did cross the dozer line and it did cross Highway 395 but was caught and put out quickly. We are all just as tired of the fire and smoke as everyone else. Good news is no homes have been lost so far, let’s hope it stays that way.”

“It has reached the Beckwourth fire scar in some areas and is burning around that. There are still some areas that haven’t burned. With the winds we get here and how dry it is, it causes it to move very quickly at times and looks very intimidating. There are a lot of resources out there and we will be there also as long as it is in our district,” continued the Doyle Fire Protection District.

In the Dixie Fire West Zone, the fire continued to burn into the evening and began to moderate after midnight. Smoke settled into the valleys on the northern portion of the fire. Active ground fire was observed throughout the night, with occasional single tree torching. Heavy down fuels actively consumed throughout the night.

Crews will continue to complete line in steep and rugged terrain in the wilderness of Lassen National Volcanic Park using all firefighting strategies available. Resources continue to establish direct and indirect containment line south of Old Station utilizing lines created by the Reading incident. Resources continue to establish containment lines to hold Highway 44 and monitor for spots across the highway while protecting critical fiber optic cable.

According to Operations Section Chief Mike Wink, the spot near Highway 44 yesterday got to about 1,000 feet of the road in the grass, but was receptive to fire control efforts of aircraft and ground resources. He said the fire train would be in the area again today.

Yesterday evening, fire crossed Highway 395 south of Milford and east of the escarpment, closing the highway for a little while. Crews from the West Zone were able to quickly catch the small spot-fire on the east side of the highway. Hot shot crews are working with West Zone resources to construct direct containment line on the northern flank of the fire near Highway 395.

Today, crews are completing contingency lines both north and south of Janesville and Milford while monitoring for the predicted wind event today. Crews are providing structure defense while ensuring firefighter safety. Resources will continue to respond to service calls within communities impacted by the fire. Mop up and patrol status is currently being utilized in applicable areas.

The high-pressure weather system will begin to weaken today with humidity remaining low and temperatures cooling slightly. Temperatures will be 83-91 degrees during the day. Humidity will be 8-12 percent with southwest winds up to 5-10 mph and gusts up to 15 mph in the afternoon.

In the Dixie Fire East Zone, firefighters expect hot daytime temperatures to continue for at least the next several days, with lighter southwest and westerly winds tomorrow, and only a slight increase in humidity. The forest is extremely dry, and the widespread fuel beds are quite receptive to sparks.

The Dixie Fire spreads by spotting, trees torch out in the heat of the day, and airborne embers settle on dry receptive fuels causing the fire to jump containment lines. Firefighters expect moderate to active fire behavior today because of southwest winds in the middle of the day. More than 500 fresh firefighters joined the fight yesterday.

Hand crews and heavy equipment were successful building containment lines and keeping the fire from progressing southward in the Horton Ridge, Dixie Valley, and Dixie Mountain areas. Crews also improved contingency dozer lines located near Dotta Canyon and along the Beckwourth/Genesee Road.

Fire continues to burn in very steep terrain of the Devil’s Punchbowl south of Taylorsville, and crews are monitoring it closely, using helicopters to keep it in place and cool it down. Crews used water to mop up all the heat within 100 feet around homes in Genesee Valley and continue to patrol and monitor the area. Unburned pockets in the interior of the fire will continue to burn out and produce smoke during the heat of the day.