Helicopters can provide air support to firefighters on the ground by supplying both water and retardant. Here, a load is dropped on the Dixie Fire. Photo by Joe Bradshaw, BLM

Dixie Fire burns 950,591 acres, remains at 59 percent containment

Rain was a welcome sight in some areas this morning, although many areas remain dry and a Red Flag Warning remains in effect through the day.

As of Friday morning, Sept. 10, the fire has burned about 950,591 acres and containment remains at 59 percent.

Yesterday, there were additional evacuation orders and warnings issued for Lassen County residents. A shelter is open at the World of Life Assembly Church in Burney.

According to West Zone Operations Section Chief Tony Brownell, yesterday was a very active day for fire weather. The most active area of the fire was in the Branch 13 area, where the fire came out of the park and moved past Old Station. The fire made a 13 mile run and crossed Highway 44.

As of this morning, Brownell said, there was zero structure loss so far, and crews are stationed in the area.

Overnight the cold front continued to move in building cumulus which created changing winds. After the storm passed, the winds increased and continued to push the fire to the northeast on top of the Hat Creek Rim. The fire below the rim continued to the north along the valley below the rim moving towards the community of Hat Creek.

The fire burned actively with crown runs at rapid rates of speed. This area is the number one priority of the management team. Additional hand crews and engines have been moved into the area and are continuing to aggressively build and reinforce lines to protect the communities of Hat Creek and Old Station.

Efforts in the northern regions of the fire have been enhanced using the Burlington Northern Santa Fe fire train. The train can deliver 30,000 gallons of water, per load, to fill water tenders, allowing for a faster return to the fire. Firefighting forces in the branch were reinforced by the addition of troops from the California National Guard.

In the Janesville and Milford area, high winds blew off the escarpment last night with gusts and some rain. Winds are expected to continue through the evening. The potential for increased fire activity in the unburned area between the fire and the Walker Burn scar is high. West Zone crews are working cooperatively with the East Zone crews up to the escarpment, mopping up and strengthening the line to keep the fire south of Janesville and Milford. On the steep slopes of the escarpment above Highway 395 south of Milford, hand crews are securing and mopping up heat near the fire’s edge.

A cold front that passed overnight is still producing isolated thunderstorms and showers midday and then will begin to decrease this afternoon. Winds will taper off this evening, but some gusts are still expected. The welcomed moisture won’t help firefighters much because the forest is extremely dry. Gusty winds and dry conditions today will test containment lines and could cause any new lightning sparked fires to rapidly grow in size and intensity.

A Red Flag Warning is still in effect for thunderstorms and frontal winds today. The forecast is for overnight winds from the southwest 25-30 MPH with gusts up to 40 mph in this morning and will decrease to 10-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph this afternoon.

In the East Zone, the Great Basin Incident Management Team 1 is timing out, and transfer of command will occur tomorrow morning at 7 AM. California Interagency Incident Management Team 1, led by Incident Commander Jerry McGowan, returns following their previous tour in August.

Pockets of fire continue to burn in a series of timber stringers north of Dixie Mountain. Hand crews improved and added depth to containment lines and are successfully holding the fire north of the mountain’s west ridge. In the inaccessible Devil’s Punchbowl area south of Taylorsville, hand crews are actively engaging the fire again with assistance from helicopters, wetting down hot spots with water drops, and scouting the area for opportunities to attack the fire directly.

Mop up operations are mostly complete and crews are back- hauling hose and water systems along twenty-five miles of recently built containment line on the south side of the fire extending from the northern point of Grizzly Ridge all the way to the north end of Davis Lake, around Turner Ridge, Clover Meadows, and into Dixie Valley.