Northern California wildfires visible from space

Satellite photo showing smoke from six large fires

5:55 p.m. PDT August 4, 2021

Satellite photo, fires in Northern California
Satellite photo, fires in Northern California, 4:21 p.m. PDT Aug 4, 2021.

Wednesday afternoon the GOES 17 satellite could easily photograph smoke from six large wildfires in Northern California:

  • Monument Fire, on the Shasta-Trinity NF was 15,000 acres Wednesday morning, ½ mile west of Big Bar along Highway 299 and east of Cedar Flat. It is threatening Big Bar, Del Loma, Big Flat, and Burnt Ranch.
  • McFarland Fire on the Shasta-Trinity NF Wednesday morning was 20,005 acres.  Evacuation orders are in place for the community of Wildwood.
  • River Complex on the Klamath NF consists of approximately 22 fires. Of these, 6 have been contained and are in patrol status. Of those that are active, most are ½ to 20 acres. The largest are Haypress at 5,500 acres, Cronan at 450 acres, and Summer at 2,500 acres, for a total of 8,487 acres.
  • Antelope Fire, approximately 2,400 acres, Klamath NF, was very active Wednesday afternoon with fire in the upper tree canopy. Spot fires have been observed 1/2 mile ahead of the main fire. Wednesday afternoon air resources could not assist firefighters on the ground due to poor visibility. It is moving north and impacting Tennant and Fish Camp.
  • Dixie Fire, on the Lassen NF, Plumas NF, and CAL FIRE. It was very active Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon and has burned approximately 274,139 acres, threatening several communities, including Chester and Greenville. It has crossed Highway 89 in multiple locations and Wednesday morning was close to crossing Highway 36.
  • River Fire near Colfax, California about 40 miles northeast of Sacramento.

Dixie Fire spreads north, Sheriff orders evacuation of Chester, CA

Very significant destruction of structures in Greenville, California Wednesday afternoon

7:13 p.m. PDT August 4, 2021

Reporters in Greenville, California have documented what one of them calls “widespread destruction” after the Dixie Fire ran through the town Wednesday. Much of the damage occurred around 5 p.m.

One scanner report said some law enforcement and fire personnel had to evacuate the area for their own safety.

Dixie Fire damages structures in Greenville, CA


2:57 p.m. PDT August 4, 2021

Dixie Fire at 2:54 p.m. PDT Aug 4, 2021
Dixie Fire at 2:54 p.m. PDT Aug 4, 2021.

Above: the Dixie Fire seen from four cameras at 2:54 p.m. PDT August 4, 2021.


7:53 a.m. PDT August 4, 2021

Map of the Dixie Fire at 7 a.m. PDT Aug 4, 2021
Map of the Dixie Fire at 7 a.m. PDT Aug 4, 2021. The red areas indicate intense heat from the fire.

The Dixie Fire was very active throughout Tuesday night, with most of the movement during the night occurring on the northwest side. During a mapping flight at 7 a.m. Wednesday two large fingers of fire spread north to within less than a mile of Highway 89. At that time there was a small spot fire three-quarters of a mile north of the highway, more than a mile out in front of the main fire.

In that same general area it was also spreading northeast and at 7 a.m. Wednesday was very close to crossing Highway 89 a third time, in this case about 2.5 miles south of the junction of Highways 89 and 36 approximately 2 miles southwest of the south edge of the Chester Airport. Earlier it crossed Highway 89 and ran to Lake Almanor just south of the golf course at Lake Almanor West. It also crossed north of Greenville.

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

Tuesday night there was not much additional spread of the fire on the west side of Greenville. Firefighters apparently were effective, at least in the short term, of slowing the fire at the edge of the town. The west flank of that large finger of fire was still active about 4 miles east of Canyondam.

A Red Flag Warning will be in effect for the fire area Wednesday afternoon through Thursday evening. Winds are expected to be out of the southwest at 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 35 mph with single-digit relative humidities. These conditions could promote additional spread to the north and northeast, making it very difficult for firefighters to keep the fire south of Highways 36 and 89.


10:33 p.m. PDT August 3, 2021

Dixie Fire map
Dixie Fire map, approximate perimeter during a mapping flight at 7:30 p.m. PDT August 3, 2021.

Strong winds gusting to 20 mph and low relative humidity Tuesday caused the Dixie Fire to grow substantially with extreme fire behavior in two areas, prompting the Plumas County Sheriff’s office to issue a mandatory evacuation of Chester. The town had a population of 2,145 in 2019. Many other areas are also under evacuation orders.

A structure status map and evacuation maps for Tehama County and Butte and Plumas Counties are available.

Tuesday evening the incident management team reported the fire had burned 254,466 acres.

On the northeast side of the fire it made a big run to the north in the Round Valley Reservoir area, crossing Long Valley Road and continued moving north on the west side of Greenville. A 7:30 p.m. mapping flight on Tuesday showed that it crossed Highway 89 about two miles north of the community. Engines, hand crews, dozers, and aircraft worked to keep the fire out of the town.

Fire trains are working to protect railway structures with water and retardant.

The Dixie Fire crossed Highway 89 in a second location nearly reaching the shore of Lake Almanor between the golf course at Lake Almanor West and Prattville.

On the northwest side Monday the fire twice spotted across the burning operation firefighters conducted several days ago along Humboldt Road. On the maps it appeared that the completed burn strip was about 150 to 300 feet wide, but in some areas was not yet tied in with the main fire. The larger of the two spots grew to over 1,000 acres Monday, and on Tuesday increased in size and had spread to within a quarter mile of Highway 36 during the 7:30 p.m. mapping flight.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the fire area beginning Wednesday afternoon due to gusty winds and low humidity.

The Incident Management Teams reports that 45 structures and 22 minor structures have been destroyed. There have been no reported injuries or fatalities.

Resources assigned to the fire Tuesday evening included 373 engines, 103 water tenders, 20 helicopters, 81 hand crews, and 70 dozers for a total of 4,927 personnel, a reduction of 241 personnel in 24 hours.

Firefighters are utilizing tactical firing operations to slow spread of the Dixie Fire

The blaze south of Chester, California has burned more than 212,000 acres

Dixie Fire map,
Dixie Fire map. The white line was the perimeter at 11 p.m. PDT July 27, 2021. The green line was the perimeter about 48 hours earlier. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 2:49 a.m. PDT July 28, 2021.

A mapping flight Tuesday night found that the Dixie Fire south of Chester, California grew by about 14,000 acres in 24 hours, to bring the total up to 212,799 acres. Much of the expansion was on the northwest side where crews are preparing firelines and conducting burning operations when the weather cooperates. There was also movement on the east side north of Bucks Lake where difficult, rocky terrain is a challenge for firefighters, and near Twain and Crescent Mills. Another burning operation has been ongoing on the Mt. Hough road northeast of Quincy.

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

The Incident Management Team reports that 34 structures have been destroyed, in addition to another 19 described as minor.

Resources assigned to the fire Tuesday evening included 82 crews, 319 engines, and 34 helicopters, for a total of 5,301 personnel.

The thick layer of smoke over the southern half of the fire lifted Tuesday morning and early afternoon, but smoke settled into the lower elevations in the evening. Air operations were also active Tuesday, including on the south perimeter near Bucks Lake. Trace amounts of rain fell in localized spots of the fire which slowed the progression of the fire and limited firefighters’ tactical firing operations.

Channel 7 KRCR has an interesting story about how firefighters have been applying large amounts of water about two miles northeast of the fire in the community of Taylorsville, in an effort to keep things wet in case of an ember shower.

Dixie Fire merges with Fly Fire southeast of Lake Almanor in Northern California

Grows to more than 197,000 acres

2:13 p.m. PDT July 26, 2021

Dixie Fire map. The white line was the perimeter at 10:30 p.m. PDT July 25, 2021. The red and yellow dots represent heat detected by satellites during the 24-hour period that ended 3:24 a.m. PDT July 26, 2021. Clouds prevented some heat being detected by satellites.

Firefighters on the Dixie Fire south of Chester, California had a better opportunity than they have seen recently to make progress on the blaze that has burned 197,000 acres. Dense smoke and occasional clouds shaded the area Sunday which put a damper on fire activity. The decreased intensity allowed crews to move closer to the fire’s edge to construct dozer and hand lines in some key areas including near Taylorsville, Crescent Mills, Quincy, Bucks Lake, and Greenville.

Similar weather conditions are expected Monday, but if the smoke clears there will be a significant increase in fire behavior. The forecast includes 20-30% chance of thunderstorms Monday night and Tuesday, which will be followed by increased winds and higher temperatures later this week.

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

Engines are deployed in Taylorsville, prepping for structure protection in the event the fire reaches the area as it continues moving northeast. Sunday night firefighters began strategic firing operations using the Mount Hough Road to strengthen the fireline north of Quincy.

Poor visibility created by the smoke limited assistance fire personnel could receive from air tankers and helicopters but drones are being to gather intelligence, monitor fire activity at night, watch for spot fires, and assist in igniting tactical burning operations.

With the inability to drop fire retardant from air tankers, on Sunday water tenders filled with the slurry pretreated areas along Humbolt Road and other locations where burning operations took place. The retardant was sprayed on the opposite side of roads from where the ignitions were occurring. Firefighters always have to be cognizant of burning embers being blown across a road in a firing operation, but the report Monday morning was that no spot fires occurred Sunday night on the project where the retardant was used. Most of the tactical firing is occurring at night when weather and fuel conditions are more moderate than in the daylight hours. Air tankers can’t be used at night to drop retardant but water tenders can be operated 24 hours a day.

The fire is extremely large, reaching “megafire” status a number of days ago when it exceeded 100,000 acres. Now it is almost twice as big, with three base camps, and has an outer perimeter of 82 miles all of which has to be secured by firefighters.

Below — fighting the Dixie Fire from a train, and keeping the tracks open.


1:25 p.m. PDT July 25, 2021

Dixie Fire map
Dixie Fire map. The white line was the perimeter at 12:01 a.m. PDT July 25, 2021. The red dots represent heat detected by satellites at 3:42 a.m. PDT July 25, 2021.

Saturday night the Dixie Fire south of Lake Almanor in Northern California merged with the Fly Fire near Highway 89 and the communities of Indian Wells and Paxton. At that time the Fly Fire was approximately 8,000 acres. With the additional growth over the last 24 hours it brings the combined size up to 190,625 acres.

The fire grew significantly Saturday in conditions that were very challenging for firefighters. The Fly Fire spread to the top of Mt. Hough and Crystal Lake and is now expected to back down the mountain to the northeast.

Saturday the east side of the fire burned into the Greenville Wye and across Highways 70 and 89. Firefighters engaged immediately in structure protection in nearby communities, with Paxton and Indian Falls being the most severely impacted. Several strike teams of engines were in the area fighting to protect structures as the fire intensified.

Extreme fire behavior is expected again Sunday, with unstable atmospheric conditions predicted that could lead to the development of large pyrocumulonimbus clouds, increasing the potential for spot fires and rapid fire growth.

This very large fire is being suppressed by two Incident Management Teams, with their areas of responsibility separated by the Highway 70 corridor.

Due to a massive smoke plume the street lights came on Saturday at 4:51 p.m. in Greenville, California, which at the time was about three miles northeast of the fire.

smoke Dixie Fire street lights Greenville California
Greenville, CA at 4:51 p.m. PDT July 24, 2021.

The burning operation underway south of Lake Almanor is going well. Crews started from Canyondam working west and are circling around the north and northwest sides of the fire working toward Butte Meadows. As of early Sunday morning crews had progressed approximately 12 miles from Canyondam, burning the fuels along a road system to create a barrier to the main fire to protect the Lake Almanor area. The objective is to tie in the burning operation with crews constructing direct fire line on the southwest side of the fire.

The prescription for the firing calls for it to be done at night, conditions that make it easier for firefighters to control the fire intensity. The ignition and prescription are similar to conducting a prescribed fire. The project can be seen on the map above, appearing as a strip of white lines south of Highway 89, with red dots signifying heat from their burning operation.

Photos of Fly Fire approaching fire monitoring camera

Near the Dixie Fire north of Quincy, California

4:46 p.m. PDT July 24, 2021

The AlertWildfire camera on Indian Ridge photographed the Fly Fire Saturday afternoon as it spread vigorously toward its location. The camera is north of the community of Keddie and northwest of Mt. Hough and Crystal Lake.

These first four pictures were shot during a five-minute period, 2:22 p.m. to 2:26 p.m. on July 24, 2021.

Judging from the photo below taken from the same camera almost two hours later at 4:10 p.m., the camera survived but the lens needs a little cleaning.

Fly Fire
Fly Fire as seen from Indian Ridge at 4:10 p.m. PDT July 24, 2021. AlertWildfire.

The Fly Fire was reported Thursday, July 22 near Keddie in Butterfly Valley about four miles north of Quincy. At first there was a question whether it was a spot fire from the Dixie Fire several miles away, or if it was unrelated. A fire behavior analysis determined the spot fire option was unlikely, but at times this year the behaviors of wildfires are off the charts. Regardless, the cause is being investigated and it is being suppressed by the Dixie Fire Incident Management Team. As of early Saturday morning it had burned more than 4,000 acres.

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

The Fly Fire is in the lower-right section of the map below.

Dixie Fire map
Map of the Dixie Fire. The white line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. PDT July 24, 2021. The green line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 4:00 a.m. PDT July 24, 2021.

Dixie Fire grows rapidly, prompting more evacuations

Expands to 181,000 acres

9:35 a.m. PDT July 24, 2021

Dixie Fire map
Map of the Dixie Fire. The white line was the perimeter at 2:30 a.m. PDT July 24, 2021. The green line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 4:00 a.m. PDT July 24, 2021.

The Dixie Fire, six air miles south of Chester, California, was very active Friday, but not as much as on Thursday due to a decrease in wind speeds. While it still created convection columns of smoke topped by white pyrocumulus clouds, they were not as large and the fire did not increase in size as much as in previous days, but it still grew by tens of thousands of acres, expanding to 181,289 acres by Saturday morning.

The east side near Caribou, Twain, and Paxton, as well as the nearby Fly Fire at Kiddie, spread one to two miles further east. The Fly Fire is a new fire that started Thursday.

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

Wednesday night firefighters began a firing operation north of the fire to create a burned area south of Lake Almanor intended to stop the northward progress of the fire. They are working from a road system south of and parallel with Highway 89, starting from Canyondam working west and then plan to circle around the northwest side of the fire toward Butte Meadows. The prescription for the firing calls for it to be done at night, conditions that make it easier for firefighters to control the fire intensity. This is similar to conducting a prescribed fire. By early Saturday morning crews had initiated firing along approximately nine miles of roads, working toward the west-northwest. The project can be seen on the map above, appearing as a strip of white lines south of Highway 89.

Dozer assisting firefighters
Dozer assisting firefighters on a firing operation, July 22, 2021. InciWeb.

The fire has been split into two zones organizationally, East and West, each with its own Incident Management Team.

The weather forecast for Saturday calls for warmer and drier conditions with relative humidities in the upper single digits and temperatures ranging from 80 to 100 degrees depending on the elevation. Wind speeds will be in the 10 to 15 mph range. The very low humidity, high temperatures, and wind, combined with the very low fuel moistures will present difficult conditions for firefighters.


4:56 p.m. PDT July 23, 2021

Dixie Fire map the white line was the perimeter 330 a.m. PDT July 23, 2021
Dixie Fire map. The red dots represent heat detected by a satellite at 3:30 a.m. PDT July 23, 2021. The white line was the perimeter 6 to 18 hours earlier.

The 143,000-acre Dixie Fire south of Chester, California was extremely active Friday afternoon, at times creating multiple smoke columns topped with pyrocumulus clouds. The growth on Thursday and Friday has been described as explosive.

The fire is being fought by 70 hand crews, 355 engines, and 31 helicopters for a total of 4,005 personnel.

Dixie Fire detected on radar
The Dixie Fire smoke columns were detected by radar at 5:31 p.m. PDT July 23, 2021.

Thursday evening the Dixie Fire was 6 air miles south of Chester, 14 miles northeast of Paradise, and 25 miles northeast of Oroville. A new fire nearby, the Fly Fire, was 4 miles north of Quincy.

Dixie Fire
The Dixie Fire as seen from Sloat Mountain, looking northwest at 3:56 p.m. PDT July 23, 2021.

Evacuations are occurring in three counties, Butte, Plumas, and Tehama. Evacuation notices for Butte and Pluma are posted at a website maintained by the counties. Tehama also recently established a similar service.

Below is a summary of the evacuation notices published by Plumas County at 1 p.m. PDT July 23, 2021. Keep in mind it is a very dynamic situation and changes occur frequently.