The largest wildfire in California’s 171-year history now engulfs almost as much land as an entire state. The Dixie Fire – which incinerated the Gold Rush town of Greenville last Wednesday night – has exploded to 783 square miles, which is roughly two-thirds of the area of Rhode Island.
From another perspective, the Dixie Fire is 11 times the size of the District of Columbia.
“The dangerous fires are among some 100 large blazes burning Wednesday across 15 states, mostly in the West, where historic drought conditions have left lands parched and ripe for ignition. The east end of Northern California’s massive Dixie Fire flared up Tuesday as afternoon winds increased, fire officials said. Burning through bone-dry trees, brush and grass, the fire has destroyed at least 1,045 buildings, more than half of them homes in the northern Sierra Nevada,” the Associated Press reported on Wednesday. “Newly released satellite imagery showed the scale of the destruction in the small community of Greenville that was incinerated last week during an explosive run of flames.”
The Dixie Fire is not just the biggest inferno in California. It is the most immense blaze anywhere in the United States and threatens 14,000 homes.
“It is about half the size of the August Complex, a series of lightning-caused 2020 fires across seven counties that were fought together and that state officials consider California’s largest wildfire overall,” AP wrote.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has been scrambling to subdue the flames, however, only 30 percent of the fire is contained.
Much of the Western United States has sweltered under unprecedented heat this summer, sparking hundreds of wildfires that emergency crews are desperately struggling – and in some localities, completely failing – to control or extinguish.
But the problem is not limited to that region.
“Scientists say climate change has made the region much warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive,” AP noted on Thursday. “More than 20,000 firefighters and support personnel were battling 97 wildfires covering 2,919 square miles (7,560 square kilometers) in 13 U.S. states.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.