A dozer heads down a track on the northeast side of the Dixie Fire. Photo courtesy of InciWeb

Possible thunderstorms bring risk of erratic winds: Dixie Fire burns 510,227 acres, remains at 30 percent containment

As firefighters continue to fight the Dixie Fire as the threat of thunderstorms and erratic winds nears, the blaze has burned 510,227 acres and remains at 30 percent containment Thursday morning. There are 1,109 total destroyed structures, 584 of which are single residences, and 72 structures damaged. About 14,416 structures remained threatened.

Today, crews are bracing for the 20 percent chance of thunderstorms.

“What that brings for us today, weather wise, it erratic winds. We’re going to have winds going 360 directions. It’s going to be another challenge day for us, but we’re going to continue to go direct,” said Operations Section Chief Jake Cagle during the Thursday morning East Zone video update. He added teams are fighting the fire direct, but also building contingency lines as a catchers mitt.

In the morning West Zone briefing, incident meteorologist Joe Goudsward noted, “We’re warm, we’re dry, we’re unstable. The thing that’s going to drive this is the smoke. If we do bust through this smoke, we are going to see some plumes. No doubt in my mind, the atmosphere is ripe for it.”

For the East Zone, Cagle noted the southern area of the fire continues to hold in the current footprint, however there will still be a firefighter presence patrolling the area.

Around Indian Valley and Crescent Mills, crews continue to mop up and secure things. Up in Keddie Point, all the structure prep is completed in there, and crews continue to work the fire as direct as possible. He added there was some potential structure impacts in the Diamond Mountain area, and teams are evaluating the area.

In China Gulch and Superior Ravine, the fire continued to progress, and makes its way to Wilcox Valley. Cagle said crews completed line around the structures. A fuel break around the Janesville continues.

In the Dyer Mountain area, crews got the west end all locked in.

For the West Zone of the fire, tactical mop up occurred in the Almanor area, and crews conducted a successful large firing operation in the R and U divisions of the wildfire, which is in the Lassen Sector.

Evacuation warnings and orders for Lassen County remain in place.   The emergency alert zone map which shows evacuation warnings and orders can be accessed at: community.zonehaven.com

Dixie Fire West Zone – Overnight temperatures remained warm with low relative humidity recovery. An inversion kept smoke over the fire with pockets of clear sky. Windy conditions will remain in the area with high pressure building today and predicted thunderstorms.

Crews will continue to reinforce control lines, aggressively mop up hotspots, and provide structure protection in the fire perimeter. Damage inspection teams continue to make progress surveying areas where fire activity has diminished.

The number of damaged and destroyed structures reflected may change as teams continue to make progress. Evacuation Warnings and Evacuation Orders are changing every day.

Dixie Fire East Zone – Dozers were utilized to expand containment lines as the fire continues to back down at Keddie Ridge. Tactical firing operations were also conducted to reduce the threat to structures along Keddie Ridge and in Indian Valley.

The afternoon peak in fire activity led to additional resources being assigned in and around Wilcox Valley. Due to the fire intensity there, firefighters were forced to pull out from direct attack but continued to construct indirect lines. The fire continues to slow down in the limited available fuels of the Sheep fire scar.

Control lines are being constructed across the fire scar, connecting from Hamilton Mountain to near Lone Rock. Hoses are being added to the lines around Dyer Mountain as an additional tool in securing containment.