Watch CBS News

California's largest wildfire forces over 8,000 evacuations as residents scramble to protect property

California's largest wildfire is growing this morning after destroying more than a dozen homes over the weekend. 

After nearly two weeks, the Dixie Fire north of Sacramento is still just 21% contained. It's one of more than 80 fires burning in 11 Western states — forcing nearly 8,400 evacuations.

The fury of the Dixie Fire is not only destroying homes in the community of Indian Falls. While threatening thousands more in its path, it's also creating smoke columns that could spark lightning storms, which could ignite even more fires.

"As the smoke clears, the sun warms the ground, we're going to see those air masses start moving very quickly," said Mitch Matlow, a public information officer assigned to the Dixie Fire. "What does that mean for the firefighters on the ground? Erratic, windy fire behavior."

Firefighters were forced to saw through a fallen tree that blocked a roadway and people living near the fire are doing what they can to protect their property.

"Get the fuels away from your house," Bob Coyle, a local property owner, said. "Get the woods stacked that's too close to the deck, away from the deck. Things like that."

To the southeast, the lightning-sparked Tamarack Fire isn't expected to be fully contained until the end of next month.  

Meanwhile, near the California border, the Bootleg Fire is now the third-largest ever recorded in Oregon, destroying nearly 70 homes.

"I came back thinking that I still had something to come home to," Raul Flores, a Sycan Estates resident, said. "And when I got here, I was actually kind of gut shot. Nothing left."

The Dixie Fire covered enough territory over the weekend to merge with another smaller fire. Right now, some 10,000 homes are threatened. Officials say this is the 15th largest fire in California history and it's only July.

The CBSN documentary "Bring Your Own Brigade" captures the horror and heroism of the deadliest week of wildfires in California history and explores the causes and solutions of a global crisis that is quite literally burning our world to the ground. Watch "Bring Your Own Brigade" in theaters starting August 6, and stream it on the CBS News app or Paramount+ on August 20.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.