Fight to contain massive Dixie Fire in Butte County continues as blazes surpasses 181,000 acres

The Dixie Fire has become one of California's top 20 largest wildfires, with 167,430 acres burned as of Friday night. By Saturday morning, the fire had grown to 181,289 acres and containment ticked up to 19%.

It grew by 24,000 acres on Friday, and containment had stalled at 18%.

At an evening briefing, CalFire expressed concern for 7000 threatened structures as the fire burns toward Lake Almanor.

Also late Friday, Governor Newsom declared a State of Emergency in the 3 counties affected: Butte, Lassen, and Plumas.

The declaration also covers Alpine County where The Tamarack Fire is also considered a megafire at more than 100,000 acres.

"Fires of this size unfortunately seem to be the new normal," said Santa Rosa Assistant Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.

Santa Rosa Fire and other departments across Sonoma County have assembled strike teams to send to the Dixie Fire.

"Like many other agencies across California, we're getting used to responding to fires like this, but I think we're all eager for a break."

Only Wednesday, the Dixie fire hovered at about 60,000 acres.

"These are very challenging conditions," said CalFire Captain Matt Moreno.

"The fire seems to be outpacing the efforts, there's spotting over a mile in front of it, and that's really creating challenges for the firefighters on the ground."

Evacuations are widening, as smoke engulfs rural towns and flames grow near.

"A police officer came up and said yes it's true you have to evacuate," said Christine Clark, evacuating from her home in Crescent Mills.

"It's been up and down because this is my first time evacuating so I was unaware of what to do and felt panicked and upset at first."

Added evacuee Savhanna Vargas of Greenville,"it was a little stressful as we drove out because everything is orange and you see flames and you see smoke."  

The Emergency Declaration clears the way for more resources and community assistance.

There are more than 4,000 firefighters dedicated to the Dixie fire, hardening lines, setting backfires, and protecting property. Only eight structures have burned.

"But that could be someone's barn, and maybe in the barn is their tractor they use to operate their farm," noted Bob Chandler, a local fire survivor from Larkfield outside Santa Rosa.

"My parents lost their home, my grandparents lost their home," said Chandler, remembering 2017's devastating Tubbs Fire,

As a building contractor, Chandler has rebuilt several homes for fire survivors.

He feels a connection to the chaos unfolding in the north state.

"Proximity doesn't matter, it could be a mile away or a thousand miles away," said Chandler.

"Someone, somewhere is in fear of losing their family or their home or their community."

With dry lightning possible for the North Bay in the upcoming week, local fire agencies have to make sure they're not stretched too thin.

"Hopefully we remain quiet, here locally," said Lowenthal.

"We don't want to see fires anywhere, but when there is a need we will continue to support efforts around California."