Dixie Fire grows to 678,000 acres near Susanville, California

 Updated at 8:20 p.m. PDT Aug. 19, 2021

At 7 p.m. local time CAL FIRE released an update on the Dixie Fire. The acreage figure was about 22,000 higher than the number from 12 hours earlier, and now stands at 699,666 acres.

At least 659 residences have been documented as destroyed and 137 commercial buildings.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Dixie Fire, including the most recent, click HERE.)

The fire is being managed by two Incident Management Teams, one on the west side and the other on the east side. In CAL FIRE’s twice daily updates the “Current Situation” section is broken down into the West and East Zones. After closely reading them for a week, it became obvious that they are written by two different people with different views on what information should be included. Below are their updates from today at 7 p.m. These are typical:

“Dixie Fire West Zone: Firefighters continue to build and bolster containment lines on the Dixie Fire. Fire remained active under northeast winds, with spotting and torching contributing to fire growth. Smoke from other fires nearby did limit activity in some places, but not enough to prevent additional growth. Fuel moistures are historically low which is contributing to the critical fire behavior. There are many considerations before allowing an area to be repopulated. A methodical, multi-pronged process of inspection and evaluation must be conducted to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all the residents affected. This process includes guaranteeing roads are safe for travel and basic utilities to infrastructure is secured. Damage assessment is ongoing, and the number of damaged and destroyed structures may change as teams are able to access the fire area safely. Please see below for information affecting your area.”

Dixie Fire East Zone: West Zone and East Zone crews, equipment, and aircraft have maintained aggressive engagement on the portion of the fire near Janesville. Along Honey Lake, the northern edge near fruit grower’s road has remained in its current footprint due to the continued northeasterly winds. Fire line was constructed on the south end from Highway 395 to the Walker fire scar. In an additional priority area, rotary aircraft supported crews in the Genesee Valley this morning when they were able to fly. After aerial retardant application, the spot fire remains at approximately the same footprint of 30 to 40 acres and firefighters are constructing and reinforcing contingency lines to the south. The fire on the north side of Beckwourth Genesee Road is currently backing down the middle slopes and crews continue to construct lines to mitigate impacts to structures in the Genesee Valley.”

Below is the map showing the boundary between the two zones, revised August 16.

Dixie Fire, new East and West Zones

Next, is the satellite photo showing smoke from fires in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Satellite photo, Western Fires at 6:26 p.m. PDT Aug 19, 2021
Satellite photo, Western Fires at 6:26 p.m. PDT Aug 19, 2021.

10:46 a.m. PDT August 19, 2021

Dixie Fire map, northwest area
Dixie Fire map, northwest area. The red areas represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:26 a.m. PDT August 19, 2021. The white line was the perimeter at 8:55 p.m. August 18, 2021. The brown areas had extreme heat when the fire was mapped Wednesday evening.

The spot fire that started five miles east of the Dixie Fire near Highway 395 has grown to about 20,000 acres. It crossed the highway in at least two places but firefighters were able to limit the spread east of the roadway. Approximately five miles of the eastern side of the fire is now alongside Highway 395 west of Honey Lake between Janesville and Milford.

The blaze is still very active in Wilcox Valley and on the west side of the 2019 Walker Fire.

Thursday morning the Incident Management Team reported that the fire had burned 678,000 acres.

Dixie Fire map, northeast area
Dixie Fire map, northeast area. The red areas represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:26 a.m. PDT August 19, 2021. The white line was the perimeter at 8:55 p.m. August 18, 2021. The brown areas had extreme heat when the fire was mapped Wednesday evening.

Westwood has still been spared. Seven miles east of the community the fire has approached Highway 36 but has not grown east past the 2016 Willard Fire. It is six miles west of Susanville.

The northwest area remains very active and continues to march through Lassen Volcanic National Park. I estimate that about 40 percent of the 106,452-acre park has has burned.

The slopover south of Highway 36 east of Mill Creek was very active Wednesday and has burned approximately 2,000 acres. This is 13 air miles west of Chester.

The weather forecast predicts dry, breezy conditions for the next several days. Friday afternoon through Sunday should bring strong winds out of the southwest.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please keep in mind our commenting ground rules before you post a comment.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

21 thoughts on “Dixie Fire grows to 678,000 acres near Susanville, California”

  1. We never hear a thing about air attack on the Dixie. We know smoke has curtailed it to some extent, but what’s the story on this aspect?

    1. I live near McClellan. There are at least 6 tankers/MAFFS flying the Dixie every 5-10 minutes, as long as they can with the smoke/inversion.

    2. Friday, August 20th, I regularly heard aircraft flying over my house in Graeagle CA as they flew north toward the Genesse Valley. The sky was hazy over Graeagle that day and the visibility was fairly good.
      However, Saturday the wind changed and we were smoked-in. I heard hardly no aircraft on Saturday.

  2. I live in Susanville and I have been wondering why the National Guard has not been called in to help with the growing wildfires? I mean there in an Army National Guard is right here in Susanville. I am by no means saying I could do as great of job as the many fire fighter crews that are on these fires, I am only saying that it would sure take some of the burden off of the men & women who have tirelessly been batteling these blazes.

    1. Firefighter Hand Crews and Strike Teams (sorry if those terms are incorrect) from CA State National Guard, US Army National Guard and US Airforce National Guard have been here fighting the Dixie fire for some time. I am an RN with Emergency Medical Services Authority’s (EMSA) California Medical Assistance Team (CAL-MAT) at the Susanville fire camp medical unit and have met members of these strike teams. So YES! The National Guard has already been deployed to protect the surrounding communities threatened by the Dixie Fire and they are WORKING EXTREMELY HARD. Thanks to all that are fighting the wildfires and to the people supporting those on the line. ???????

  3. Teresa White:
    Good point! I’d like to know the answer also.
    Do you have a Forest Service Office in Susanville?
    Can you call them after 8:30 a.m.
    to get that answer? (I say 8:30, because the office will be buzzing at the start of the day).

    1. The National Guard is under the direction of the Governor of the state. The Forest Service has little say in activating the CA NG.
      The Forest Service & it’s federal land management agency partners can request thru the Department of Defense use of active duty troops (I had a platoon of active duty Army in Yellowstone 1988).
      The Governor would need to make that request thru the California Military Department.

  4. I would like to know why, after the loss of Whiskeytown Park (95 percent burned) in the Carr Fire, we have not made more of an effort to save our National forests and Parks. If we need to create an additional National Agency to fight fires in the Western US, we must do so. We are refugees of the Carr Fire and while I feel with empathy tor all who lose personal dwellings, pets and possessions as we did. I also feel for all of us when we lose a National Park. This is unacceptable to us all.

    1. Rima – put simply, its complicated.
      fuels, weather, terrain, other fires, climate change, all contibute to the final result. No easy answer, and a National fire service in the US, like CalFire is to California, won’t likely change the end result, in my opinion.
      In the end, Mother Nature deals the last hand.

  5. They are already in the mix. There is a nice article “cal-guard-actively-fights-states-wildfires” on the Natinalguard.mil website. It states that there are around 1000 of Cali folks with around 120 from other states.

    I couldn’t post the link here it presumed I was spamming folks.

  6. Well said, Rima.
    I served 38 years in the US Forest Service. My commitment was always, and is today, to the citizens of our country. National Forests, National Parks, and other federal Monuments and sites do not belong to the government or to the US Forest Service, Park Service or other agencies; they are PUBLIC TREASURES, and MUST be treated as such. For too long, the USFS has been allowed to use so-called “managed wildfire” as a form of “restoring long term ecosystem values to the land.” Just this month, the new Chief of the USFS, stated that this former practice was to stop immediately. Interpretations of this statement are all over the board by various critics. I say, “it’s a step in the right direction.” Now, we need to see what his follow up actions will be; i.e. to “walk the talk.” There is no need to have a “federal fire force” if the Agencies will just do they were hired to do; that is, to protect and manage our public lands and resources. We want all fires suppressed immediately with all the tools and personnel, including smokejumpers and air tankers, available to do so. Spend whatever money needs to be spent “up front” so that we don’t spend tens of millions later when you allow a fire to escape!

    1. One of the reasons for ‘managed fire’ is to burn fuels under moderate conditions so they are not available during extreme fire conditions. This restored natural balance will, it is hoped, prevent continuous heavy fuel beds reducing both starts and spreads. These areas of reduced fuels may also allow fire fighters places for control lines. Nothing, of course, is a guarantee especially during times of extreme weather and fuel conditions. The alternative you support, extinguishing each and every fire as soon as possible no matter the conditions may yield short term benefit but exacerbate long term risks. No?

    1. Hi Douglas. Of course there are fires burning throughout the west. WFT is often a basic source for information when there are so many fires going. I think Bill Gabbert, Mr. Wildfire Today so to speak, is overwhelmed with fire info when things are really popping so I figure he can only focus on a few very prominent fires. Although wildfire plays a major role in his life, I suspect he still has a life. Plus I believe he’s still called upon to work a gig at least now and then. His reports do not spring forth from the ether. Where does he get his info? I’m sure he utilizes personal contacts that he has developed over his many years of active participation in wildland fire but many public, and likely private, source websites as well. There are prominent websites from which one can gain information such as Inciweb, CalFire, NIFC (National Interagency Fire Center), individual National Forests, etc. It would be nice to have an online “daily” that covers many if not most fires but that would be an all-consuming job essentially with no monetary benefits. For me, just searching out information in more obscure places is very time-consuming. In the end, yes WFT can be frustratingly short on information but it presents an eye-opener. LR

  7. What is the status if the Susanville prison camp around there? Will they need to be evacuated in the near future?

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