‘This Isn’t How We’re Supped to Live’: Residents Run As Dixie Fire Surges
Quincy, Calif. There was a knock on the door at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, because the sky was filling with smoke. When Christina Bowen heard the Plumas County sheriff’s deputy shout, she knew she had to move fast.
“He said point-blank, ‘Pack your family bags, you have five minutes to get the hell out of me,’” said Ms. Bowen, 40, as Dixie fires remembers scuffles to remove her from her mobile home. In doing so, the largest fire ever raged in California, swept through the surrounding forests.
In this part of Northern California that has grown into a solemn ritual, at least 16,500 people have recently had to flee their homes as another huge wildfire ballooned. Evacuations are increasing tension in an area still recovering from the Camp Fire, which killed 85 people in 2018 and is the deadliest wildfire in California history.
President Biden met on Friday with the governors of seven western states, where devastating wildfires have become more severe in recent years as climate change leads to a hotter and drier landscape. They discussed how the federal government can help states with prevention, preparedness, and emergency response efforts.
More than 80 major fires were burning across the country on Friday, engulfing nearly 17 lakh acres in 13 states. The two largest, the Dixie Fire, which has spread to about 241,000 acres, and the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon, were both cited by fire officials as the first and more intense burns for this time of year due to drought conditions. has been described. Record heat across the region
In a terrifying echo to the Camp Fire, which destroyed the City of Paradise and was started by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s equipment, the utility giant told regulators this month that its equipment caused the Dixie Fire in the same hill. would also have started. The valley where the fire broke out in 2018.
The cause of the Dixie fire is being investigated. PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo declined to answer questions, instead citing a report filed with regulators and a court filing in response to a court order requesting information on the fire. .
The incident report, which the company filed on July 18, described how an employee blew fuses in an area off Highway 70 and saw a “fire on the ground near the base of the tree”, which he reported to his supervisor. Dee, who called 911. In a July 28 court filing, the company said it was “continuing to investigate the role of its equipment” in the Dixie fire, which was about 23 percent contained as of Friday.
As firefighters struggled to contain the fire, Quincy, on the edge of the evacuation zone, was transformed this week from a sleepy logging town of about 2,000 residents into a frantic staging area.
At night, firefighters set up tents and sleep in the city park. At dawn, they are piled into trucks and bulldozers and driven into the surrounding mountains.
In the largest ongoing emergency mobilization in the United States, at least 6,079 personnel have been called in to fight the Dixie Fire. During the 24-hour shift they face a variety of troubling conditions, including hiking more than 15 miles through rough mountainous terrain, where the engines are unable to move smoothly.
black hawk helicopter Roaming upstairs, carrying National Guard soldiers along the water to put out the fire, gives parts of the area the feel of a war zone. Getting from Chico City to Quincy involves passing through numerous obstacles and deserted Gold Rush-era outposts such as Twain and Belden, who were somehow rescued by firefighters.
Burnt trees still stand along much of Highway 70, along with close call signs such as intact but empty homes in front of burnt automobiles. On Friday, some wild hills continued to smolder. Several street signs expressed gratitude to the firefighters deployed against the Dixie Fire.
“I am delighted to be alive,” said Marva Stewart, a retired sales clerk, 75, who has spent the past week and a half in a temporary shelter at Springs of Hope Church in Quincy. When will it end We should not live like this in this country.”
On one afternoon this week, some cramped churchgoers scrolled through the social media feeds on their phones for updates on the Dixie Fire, which began on July 13 and has consumed an area larger than New York City.
Baltazar García tried to call his sister several times, but the swamp of the mobile phone network in Quincy meant he could not be found. “It’s been really hard for me,” Mr. Garcia, 76, a former mine worker, said in Spanish. “I’m alone here, and it’s hard to even figure out what’s going on. At least they’re giving us food.”
Other evacuees spent time in parking lots or took refuge in their cars for a glimpse of privacy, turning on the air-conditioning as the smoke turned the sky an unusual shade of orange. They often turned on wipers to clear the ashes that had accumulated on their windshields.
“I can’t take this anymore,” said Tracy Ketchum, 66, a retired housewife sitting in her car outside the church. She said she was looking for some peace and quiet when she left Orange County in Southern California for the rural enclave of Greenville nine years ago.
“I study the Bible – now I can’t help but feel it’s the end of days,” said Ms. Ketchum. The lack of privacy at the shelter, she said, coupled with reports of PG&E involvement and the absence of credible information on how long this disaster could last, had left her at wit’s end.
“Maybe all this is a sign that I should go home no matter what the risk,” said Ms Ketchum, who lives alone. “Everyone is waiting, children are crying, it is hot here in the city. It should be better from here.”
Temperatures in the areas around the Dixie Fire have soared to nearly 100 degrees this week, pointing to drought conditions that fuel wildfires across much of the West. The fire has grown so much that smoke from the Dixie Fire in the state capital, Sacramento, which is a three-hour drive from Quincy, raised concerns about worsening air quality this week. Officials urged residents of Sacramento with respiratory problems or heart disease to limit outdoor exposure.
Scott Ludwig, who was evacuated from the mobile home park with Ms Bowen and her two children, said: “It feels like we’ve been swept up in something we can’t control.”
Mr Ludwig, a former carnival worker who now draws on disability payments, said he wants answers from PG&E. “It’s outrageous that we still have to pay the electricity bill to a company that doesn’t learn from its mistakes.”
As he stood near the shelter’s entrance, putting out a cigarette, he saw thousands of logs tall nearby—a reminder of how dependent Quincy is now on the trees going up in flames.
“We don’t know if we will have to evacuate again,” said Mr Ludwig. “Look around us, there is a lot to burn. If the fire reaches this place, we are nothing but roast ducks.”
Annie Karnik Contributed to reporting.
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