A huge wildfire in northern California entered the small community of Greenville on Wednesday and appeared to burn down much of downtown, according to reports.
Video showed homes and vehicles engulfed by flames, commercial structures gutted and buildings collapsed in the mountain community of around 800.
The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office had issued a dire warning earlier in the day: “If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!”
There was no immediate word of any injuries.
A public information officer for the fire response said late Wednesday there was still fire in Greenville and no damage assessment available.
The Dixie Fire, the largest wildfire burning in California, has been raging in the region since July 14, burned more than 278,000 acres and destroyed at least 45 structures, which includes homes. It is burning in Butte and Plumas counties.
Around 4 p.m., the fire “slopped over this hairpin road system, and it got into Greenville,” Jake Cagle, incident management team operations section chief, said in a video update Wednesday night.
Messages to the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office were not immediately returned Wednesday night.
Much of the downtown and some surrounding homes were destroyed, The Associated Press reported. Video shot in the area showed tall trees on fire, flames on both sides of a road and thick heavy smoke. At least one building had only portions of brick walls standing.
Cagle said in the video some in Greenville did not heed the evacuation order, and firefighters were getting them out of harm’s way instead of being able to focus on defending structures.
“This is a big problem that we’re having — these are not the normal fires anymore,” he said, and he emphasized that people need to obey evacuation orders.
“It’s just intense fire behavior, and it’s not what we’re used to,” Cagle said.
The Dixie Fire is the eighth-largest wildfire in recorded California history, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was 35 percent contained Wednesday night.
This year has seen extreme heat that helped fuel fires all over the Western United States. Experts say that climate change is exacerbating wildfire conditions.
In 2020, California saw one its worst wildfire seasons in history, which included four of the five largest wildfires in California since reliable records were kept.