The Californian Plumas County Sheriff’s Office reported eight missing persons. Most of them live in the town of Greenville, which was to a large extent affected by the fire. The fire has already consumed nearly 176,000 hectares and was considered the third largest fire in California history. Authorities warn residents to stay indoors because of the air polluted by thick smoke.
In California, the fight against a fire named Dixie continues. Calmer, less windy weather gave firefighters a hiatus from the fight against the elements, but the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office released sad news on Saturday. “We have received reports of eight missing persons,” the office said in a statement, asking for help in finding them.
The five missing persons are from the old mining town of Greenville, approximately 260 kilometers north of Sacramento. The town has 800 inhabitants and was founded over 150 years ago, when the nearby gold mines attracted settlers and merchants to the picturesque town in the Indian Valley. The fire razed most of downtown Greenville. Over 184 buildings were destroyed.
Californians urged to stay indoors
“Avoid any unnecessary outdoor activity,” warned Ann Hobbs of Placer County Air Pollution Control District, adding that the air quality there was the worst in a year. Local authorities announced that a change in wind direction would bring poor air quality to local residents. Thick smoke stretched far beyond California, setting off an alarm in Utah as well.
“Our dispatch centers are becoming more and more overwhelmed by calls about the danger of smoke. Unfortunately, we are unable to change the air currents,” the Centerville Police Department said on Twitter.
On Friday afternoon local time, on the AirNow air quality monitoring website, readings of fine particles produced by smoke from the fires showed that Chester ratings were 921, well over 300 considered “unsafe”. In Paradise, the index was also dangerous, reaching 602.
Nevada, Plumas and Sierra’s public health departments have issued joint air quality alerts due to “prolonged and dense smoke from numerous fires”. “It was hard to breathe,” said Jake Edwards, a resident of Lake Almanor, California, to CNN. The entire community was forced to evacuate due to the fire.
Third largest fire in California history
According to Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns, Dixie has already destroyed more than 100 homes. It is predicted to do more damage. It threatens around 14,000 buildings.
The Dixie fire is the third largest fire in California history and the largest fire in the United States of the year. It has already absorbed nearly 176,000 hectares – an area 3.5 times larger than Lake Tahoe. The Element burned territory equal to New York’s Central Park every 11 minutes for 24 hours. It is controlled at 21 percent, down from 35 percent. on Thursday, CNN reported.
The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but remains under investigation.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / US FOREST SERVICE HANDOUT