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FireWatch: California's Dixie Fire has charred nearly a million acres and the state's fire season shows no signs of relief

If the Dixie Fire continues to spread as expected, it will become a "gigafire," a rare designation given to wildfires that consume more than a million acres.

Posted: Sep 13, 2021 3:19 PM
Updated: Sep 13, 2021 3:20 PM

Kelly McCleary, CNN

(CNN) -- California's Dixie Fire is burning its way toward the record books as it nears the devastating milestone of one million acres scorched.

The fire, which has been burning across five counties in Northern California for 60 days, had consumed 960,335 acres as of Sunday evening, fire officials said. It was 67% contained.

That's a growth of more than 60,000 acres in just a week.

If the Dixie Fire continues to spread as expected, it will become a "gigafire," a rare designation given to wildfires that consume more than a million acres.

California recorded its first gigafire last year as the August Complex Fire chewed through 1,032,648 acres and more than 900 structures on its march to becoming the state's largest ever fire. The August Complex Fire began in August 2020 as a series of separate fires sparked by lighting that eventually morphed into the gargantuan blaze.

While historic, the designation likely won't change much for those whose lives are directly impacted by Dixie's flames. Evacuation warnings and orders are already in place in Plumas, Lassen and Shasta counties.

So far, 1,329 structures have been lost to the flames, residential, business or otherwise. Last month, the small community of Greenville, about 150 miles north of Sacramento, was all but wiped out by the Dixie Fire. In the community's commercial center at Main Street and State Route 89, nearly every business appeared to have collapsed or been gutted by the flames.

More than a dozen large fires burning across the state
While the Dixie Fire is California's largest active blaze, it's not the only one challenging firefighters across the state: 13 larges fires are currently burning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

The Caldor Fire in the Lake Tahoe region is the second-largest currently burning in the state. It measured 219,267 acres Sunday evening and was 65% contained, according to Cal Fire. The flames prompted the evacuation of South Lake Tahoe late last month, but improving conditions allowed residents to return home about a week later. Officials cautioned, though, that residents should be ready to leave again at a moment's notice.

Cal Fire Chief Thom Porter warned last week that California's fire season is "far from over" and forecasters predicted dry and windy weather conditions will continue to create the ideal environment for wildfires to ignite and expand.

Overall, there are 80 large wildfires actively burning across the US, according to the NIFC. Idaho has the most fires, with 22 currently burning. More than three million acres have been torched by the active fires nationwide.

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Santa Clara1418101852
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Lake620295
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Glenn411330
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Calaveras355570
Del Norte348237
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Trinity75810
Modoc6288
Sierra1980
Unassigned1430
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