A massive wildfire that raged across Northern California for nearly a month has burned another 550 homes, fire officials said Wednesday, making it one of the most destructive in state history.
The Dixie Fire, which broke out July 14 in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, about 160 miles (260 km) northeast of Sacramento, is the second largest in state history. Crews had contained only 30 percent of the fire as of Wednesday night.
Temperatures are expected to top 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) in the coming days as a high-pressure weather system, described by meteorologists as a “heat dome,” bakes the Pacific Northwest.
“High pressure continues to build over the incident and will be the dominant feature with thunderstorms forecast this week,” the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said in an incident update.
Thunderstorms can sweep across the landscape with so-called dry lightning, igniting more flames in Northern California in forests and scrub that have been left brown and parched by years of drought.
The Dixie Fire has burned more than 500,000 acres, making it the largest and most destructive of the 11 wildfires burning in California, fought by nearly 10,000 people. Two firefighters and a civilian were injured.
The fire has destroyed more than 1,000 single-family homes, along with hundreds of other structures. Flames roared through the historic mining town of Greenville last week, leaving its main street in smoking ruins.
Firefighters Work to Protect California City As Dixie Fire Rages Havoc
California, which typically experiences peak fire season later in the year, is on track for more acres burned this year than last, the worst fire season on record.
The state’s five largest wildfires in history have occurred in the past three years, burning more than 2.5 million acres and destroying 3,700 structures.
The Dixie Fire is second in size after last year’s August Complex, which was comprised of several smaller fires that merged to create a massive conflagration.