QUINCY, Plumas County (CBS SF) — A small army of hundreds of firefighters and equipment were deployed in the Genesee Valley in Plumas County Wednesday, preparing for a firefight with the massive Dixie Fire as it approaches the communities of Quincy and Taylorsville.

By Wednesday morning, the fire had grown to 735,064 acres with 45% containment and has destroyed at least 682 homes.

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East Zone Operations Chief Chad Cook said crews were removing trees and clearing brush to rob the advancing flames of fuel near the fire zones in the Genesee Valley. But the terrain and dry conditions were challenging crews and any gust of wind or cloud of embers had the potential to quickly advance the flames beyond well-prepared containment lines.

That’s what happened Tuesday along Peel Ridge mountain peak south of Genesee.

A spot fire has been burning nearby for several days in an area where downed trees from an old avalanche are scattered along the mountainside. Gusty winds sent embers about a mile south onto Peel Ridge where several, new spot fires erupted.

“It’s very rugged terrain,” Cook said during his Wednesday morning update. “It looks like an avalanche took place in one of these canyons. It snapped off all the timber and it jammed it all up, kind of bottle-necked it up mid-slope. We call it jackstraw timber where it is just lying on top and it’s very thick fuel.”

“[Peel Ridge] was very active last night,” he continued. “It’s starting to move up Peel Ridge.”

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Cook said no structures were lost yesterday in the Genesee Valley and crews were working on building containment lines along nearby Grizzly Ridge and back into the burn scar from the old Walker Fire.

A massive pyrocumulus cloud developed over the wildfire on Tuesday, elevating the anxieties for those in the nearby community of East Quincy.

North of Quincy near Taylorsville, flames continued to advance down the slope of Mt. Jura toward the town. Contingency lines have been built in the hope of keeping the flames out of town.

“It is highly visible from the town of Taylorsville,” Cook said. “If you are in Taylorsville and are looking north, you’ll see that backing fire coming off the ridge…This is definitely a threat and when I say a threat, there is no sugar-coating the fact that this has the potential to have fire in and around the community.”

At the northern tip of the Dixie Fire, another small army of firefighters was battling to keep the flames from burning through the edge of the Lassen Volcanic National Park and threatening the town of Old Station.

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On Wednesday afternoon, the Lassen County sheriff issued evacuation warnings for Old Station and Hat Creek about 15 miles north of the park’s entrance on the Manzanita Lake side.

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