SUSANVILLE (CBS SF) — Containment grew to 40 percent overnight on the massive Dixie Fire as firefighters halted the flames advance toward Susanville and crews were pulled from the fire lines near Janesville to reinforce efforts to slow the blaze’s run in the Genesee Valley.
By Monday morning, the fire had grown to 725,821 acres and had destroyed at least 1,259 structures, including 678 homes.READ MORE: UPDATE: Thousands Forced To Flee Fawn Fire; New Evacuations Ordered South Of Shasta Lake
Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a request Monday afternoon to President Joe Biden for a major disaster declaration for Plumas, Lassen, Tehama, Nevada, Placer, Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity counties to free up federal relief money. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was also sending funds and personnel.
At an afternoon news conference, Cal Fire Director Tom Porter delivered some good news. Over the next 7 days, conditions in Southern California will not be posing the threat of a major new fire and there will only be a moderate threat in Northern California.
“That doesn’t change the fact that we have many large, damaging fires that are ongoing, particularly in the northern part of the state and they are going to continue to grow and get bigger,” he said. “It (the forecast) does allow us to move resources from the southern part of the state.”
The Dixie Fire was the largest of the 12 major blazes currently burning in the state. More than 13,000 firefighters were engaged in battling the flames.
“This is a marathon,” Porter said. “Right now, we are at about the middle point of our peak season for need, for resources and the expectation of large, damaging fires.”
He said the state was on pace to eclipse last year’s historic and record wildfire year.READ MORE: PG&E Charged With Manslaughter For Sparking Wildfire That Killed 4
“These are our days,” Porter said. “We are actually on pace, ahead of pace, this year from where we were to date last year. Today, we have had almost 3 times the number of acres burned (in the state) over our 5-year average. A lot of acres are burning, fires are burning in ways nobody has seen before.”
On the Dixie Fire lines, after battling Red Flag wind conditions on Saturday, the gusts calmed considerably on Sunday allowing firefighters to expand and strengthen their containment.
“Day 41, a lot has been accomplished,” said Cal Fire Assistant Chief Billy See at Monday morning’s crew update. “726,000 acres and 40 percent contained. That equates out to about 250 miles of control line established already. We still have more than 300 miles to go. We got a lot of work ahead of us.”
The blaze remains most active in the Lassen Volcanic National Forest, where it was closing in on the northern edge of the park, and along the Genesee Valley.
In Lassen, flames have charred around a third of the total acreage and burned homes in the nearby Warner Valley. Cal Fire Operations Chief Mark Bruton said backfires were being lit to slow the fire’s advance and contingency lines were being constructed north of the park between Lassen and Old Station.
Along the southern edge of the fire, crews were in an intense battle to slow the advance and save homes and ranches in the Genesee Valley. Extra crews were being moved into the area after successfully fighting the fire between Susanville and Milford.
“This is going to be a firefight in here,” said East Operations Chief Chad Cook, pointing to an area where two ridges intersect near North Valley Road. “It is very tight. This ridge system comes down. There is timber down in here. There’s ranches, there is homes, it is a very tight, narrow canyon.”MORE NEWS: UPDATE: Wind-Driven Fawn Fire Near Redding Explodes To 5,500 Acres; Suspected Arsonist Arrested
“I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you this is going to be a pinch point in a troubling spot for us to control fire…We expect this to be a firefight and very difficult to hold.”