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Californians face a weekend of fear in the face of wildfires

The Dixie Fire, which incinerated Greenville's gold rush-era community, has now destroyed 268 homes and damaged other structures. It is currently threatening almost 14,000 buildings in northern Sierra Nevada. It had already engulfed an area that was larger than New York City.

On Wednesday and Thursday, wind-driven flames destroyed Greenville's downtown and homes. Canyondam, a hamlet of around three dozen, was also badly damaged. Officials said that the fire reached Chester but that crews were able to save homes and businesses.

Charlene Mays kept Chester's gas station open for as long as possible, encouraging weary firefighters to not apologize for the ash trail their boots left. Mays was forced to leave when power went out in the small community on the northwest shores of Lake Almanor.

She ran to her house to get a box of valuables. It was difficult to breathe because of the thick smoke. As they touched the ground, ash chunks broke apart and made a sound similar to broken glass.

Mays has lived in the Lassen Community College parking lot in Susanville since then. Her husband was able to stay behind to help with water tanks that firefighters used. She is alone with a miniature pinscher chihuahua named Jedidiah, and a pitbull named Bear.

On Friday, her home was still standing. Her fate was determined by the direction of wind. She was not the only one.

She said, "I have probably 30 of my regular clients right here."

Named after the road it began, the Dixie Fire now covers 698 miles (1,807 km) and is only 21% contained. According to Edwin Zuniga, a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter, four firefighters were injured by a fallen branch and were transported to the hospital.

The spread of the fire was slowed by cooler overnight temperatures and higher humidity. Calmer winds were forecast Saturday with temperatures reaching 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32° Celsius). This was in contrast to the 40-mph gusts (64 kph) and triple-digit highs earlier in the week.

The blaze and its neighbors, located within a few hundred miles of one another, posed a continuing threat.

Wildfires in the American West are now more difficult to combat due to heat waves and droughts that have been linked to climate change. Climate change, according to scientists, has caused the region to become warmer and dryer over the past 30 year. This will make it more difficult for wildfires to be controlled and more destructive.

Firefighters kept watch on the small communities near Klamath National Forest as they evacuated residents who were in the path the Antelope Fire. The fire had earlier erupted to flames at 100 feet (30 m) high, and it also blackened bone-dry grass and timber. It was only 20% contained.

Further north, 500 homes in Shasta-Trinity National Forest were still at risk from the McFarland Fire and the Monument Fire. Both fire officials stated that they were triggered by lightning storms last Wednesday.

Crews were able to surround nearly half the River Fire that brokeout Wednesday near Colfax, destroying 68 homes and other structures. It took them about two hours to reach the Dixie Fire. Friday saw the lifting of evacuation orders for thousands in Nevada and Placer counties. Authorities said that three people were hurt, including a firefighter.

Dale Huber entered the fire zone to inspect his brother's house, which had been reduced to rubble on Friday.

Huber stated, "It used be a lot of cool stuff, but now it's just garbage." "You can't fix it. It can be torn out and rebuilt or we can run. He's made a decision to rebuild it.

The smoke from the fires covered central California and western Nevada, making air quality very poor and sometimes dangerous. Residents were advised to close their doors and windows throughout the San Joaquin Valley as well as San Francisco Bay Area.

California's fire season could surpass that of last year, which was the most destructive fire season in state history. According to state fire statistics, over 6,000 fires have already destroyed more than 1,260 sq miles (3,260 km) of land since the beginning of the year. This is more than three times the loss for the same period in 2020.

California's wildfires are one of 107 active fires that have erupted across 14 states. They were mostly located in the West where drought conditions have caused land to become dry and ripe for ignition.

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