GREENVILLE — The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection says a raging wildfire that swept through a tiny Northern California mountain town is now the sixth-largest in state history.
The 3-week-old wildfire engulfed the town of Greenville, wiping out historic buildings and leaving much of the downtown in ashes, while a new wind-whipped blaze also destroyed homes as crews braced for another explosive run of flames Thursday in the midst of dangerous weather.
The Dixie Fire had blackened territory bigger than the city of Los Angeles by Thursday, stretching over 504 square miles (1,305 square kilometers).
Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss wrote Thursday on Facebook that the fire “burnt down our entire downtown. Our historical buildings, families homes, small businesses, and our children’s schools are completely lost.”
Officials could not immediately say how many buildings were razed, but photos and video from the scene indicate the destruction was widespread.
“We lost Greenville tonight,” U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents the area, said in an emotional Facebook video. “There’s just no words.”
As the fire’s north and eastern sides exploded Wednesday, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning online to the town’s approximately 800 residents: “You are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!”
The growing blaze that broke out July 21 was the state’s largest current wildfire and had blackened over 504 square miles. It had burned dozens of homes before making its new run.
“We did everything we could,” fire spokesman Mitch Matlow said. “Sometimes it’s just not enough.”
Four of California’s other five largest wildfires were all in 2020.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths.