The Dixie fire burning in Butte and Plumas counties mushroomed to more than 100,000 acres Thursday, becoming the second California blaze this year to surpass that acreage milestone.
The aggressive fire has now destroyed at least eight structures, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said, and at least 1,500 more are threatened as it continues its slow crawl east toward Lake Almanor.
The fire was at 103,910 acres and 17% containment Thursday morning, Cal Fire said.
It is the second fire in the state this year of that size. Days ago, the Sugar fire in Butte County garnered the designation when it grew to 105,000 acres.
The Sugar fire and a nearby blaze, the Dotta fire, have been grouped together as a single incident — the Beckwourth Complex — which as of Thursday afternoon remained about 105,000 acres with its perimeter 96% contained, according to fire officials.
Wildfire experts have said California’s fires are burning faster and arriving earlier this year because heat and drought have dried the landscape and primed vegetation to burn.
Wind and topography also played a role in the Dixie fire’s latest run, said Cal Fire Butte County spokesman Rick Carhart, as the area’s valleys, peaks and canyons are enabling erratic movement and spread.
“There are fingers of fire that are burning, so it’s not the whole fire front moving together,” Carhart said. “With more flame-front out there, there’s more ability for it to grow.”
Carhart said clear skies forecast for Thursday afternoon would encourage fire activity because it “allows more sun onto the fire and heats things up.”
An additional 500 firefighters and support personnel have arrived to help fight the flames, bringing the total size of the crew to just over 3,900, he said. Firefighters have come from Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and even Florida to help with the operation.
The Butte County Sheriff’s Office has issued evacuation orders for Lake Almanor’s west shore, as well as portions of Butte and Plumas county. About 3:30 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office also ordered evacuations in the town of Paradise along McCann Drive, Royal Meadow Lane and Sunnyside Lane, and for residents on Neal Road south to Little Dry Creek.