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Dixie Fire Video: Flames Jump Over Highway 89; New Evacuation Orders for Lake Almanor, Chester and Parts of Indian Valley

PLUMAS COUNTY (CBS SF) -- New activity on the northern side of the Dixie Fire in Plumas County Tuesday afternoon brought more mandatory evacuation orders to the east shore of Lake Almanor, the northeast side of Indian Valley and the town of Chester, according to authorities.

The fire has grown overnight to 254,466 acres and was 35% contained. There were 5,168 firefighters battling the blaze as of Tuesday morning.

At around 3:45 p.m. the Plumas County Sheriff issued a mandatory evacuation order for all residents on the northeast side of Indian Valley. The order covers an area including Dyer Mountain, southeast to Keddie Ridge, southeast to Diamond Mountain Road, west to Stampfli Lane, north to Wolf Creek, northwest to the intersection of N Valley Road and Pecks Valley Road, north to the intersection of Williams Valley Road and Lower Williams Valley Road, northwest to SR89 at Second Water Tower Creek north to Dyer Mountain.

While residents were earlier advised to evacuate to Chester where a shelter was set up at the Chester Memorial Hall, within a few hours that shelter was being demobilizing due to capacity and other logistical reasons, including the fact that Chester itself was under an evacuation warning.

The area impacted by that warning includes Chester as well as the region from the Hwy 36/Hwy 89 junction, east to the causeway, both sides of Hwy 36 through Chester to the Lake Almanor edge and to north to the county line.

As of  about 5 p.m., that evacuation warning for the area around Chester was upgraded to a mandatory evacuation order.

The order also included all of the Lake Almanor peninsula and Hamilton Branch from SR36 on the causeway, east to the Lassen County Line, south on SR147 to County Road A13, south to Peninsula Point and north to the SR36 causeway.

A new shelter is being opened at Lassen Community College in Susanville.

Shortly before 1 p.m., the Plumas County Sheriff announced another round of mandatory evacuation orders covering the east shore of Lake Almanor. The area includes the intersection of SR147 and County Road A13, east to Little Dyer Mountain, southeast to Dyer Mountain, south to SR89, west to SR147 and north to County Road A13.

At around the same time, the Lassen County Sheriff issued an evacuation warning for the area south of Mountain Meadows Reservoir from Hamilton Branch waterway east to the Lassen/Plumas County line. Authorities noted that they don't believe there are any residences in the area, they were still asking the public to stay out of the region for any purpose including recreation.

Earlier Tuesday, a spot fire that ignited north of the Humboldt Road containment line on the fire's northwest edge grew to more than 1,800 acres early Tuesday, forcing an evacuation orders for residents living along the west shore of Lake Almanor.


There were several other small spot fires all the way to Lake Almanor.

"There reason why we got those spots is there are several unburned islands on the inside of the fire lines," said West Zone Incident Chief Chris Trinidad. "As those get active throughout the day, as the weather gets hotter and drier, the ember cast (clouds of embers) goes over our lines. In some areas over a mile."

"That ignites the fuels that are sitting on the ground at 4 percent dryness ... They are very receptive. We are actively engaged on all of those (spot fires)."

ALSO READ: PG&E Equipment May Be Involved In Start Of Small Wildfire That Merged With Dixie Fire

The area included: the Highway 36/Hwy 89 Junction south to Lake Almanor West Drive and everything east to the Lake Almanor water line. The entire "LAW" subdivision, Prattville and Canyon Dam from Canyon Dam northwest to Highway 89 and just south of Lake Almanor West Drive. This includes Big Meadows, the Rocky Point Campground, the Canyon Dam Boat Launch.

An evacuation warning has been issued for: Lake Almanor Peninsula; includes, Hamilton Branch, Bailey Creek, the North Shore Campground, and all of the Lake Almanor Peninsula community.

PG&E equipment was already under investigation as to a source of the Dixie Fire. In a state regulatory filing, the utility said its equipment may have been involved with igniting the Fly Fire.

The U.S. Forest Service was examining a tree found on PG&E power lines near the town of Quincy in Plumas County where the Fly Fire began July 22, according to the PG&E's report to the California Public Utilities Commission.

The smaller blaze burned through more than 6 square miles of forest before combining with the much larger Dixie Fire two days later.

On Monday afternoon, gusty winds whipped up the Dixie Fire, sending flames roaring through the treetops, stirring up an ember cloud that ignited spot fires up to a mile away and forcing the residents of Greenville to flee their homes.

During his nightly update, the East Zone fire analyst Dennis Burns said crews were quickly re-enforced but the wall of flames overwhelmed their efforts.

"About 2 o'clock this afternoon, the fire became established in the crowns of trees, had 25-20 mph winds coming across from the southwest," he said. "We started seeing spotting up to a mile. They pumped more crews in. All the aircraft that we had including air tankers were flying and the fire was just outpacing everything we were throwing at it."

The more than 1,100 residents of Greenville were ordered to immediately leave their homes.

It wasn't just on the east zone where the fire was rapidly advancing along Humboldt Road.

"The west zone was experiencing similar conditions to us," Burns said.

In its Tuesday morning news release, the U.S. Forest Service said of the blaze's northwest edge:

"Extreme fire behavior has been mostly influenced by heavy fuel loadings, tree stand density, steep slopes, and unburned interior islands," officials said. "Fuels are at critical levels and the fire has become active. Short range spotting and tree torching continues to challenge control lines and suppression efforts."

The advancing flames forced the Plumas County Sheriff's Office to issue new evacuation orders for areas west of the Highway 89/36 Junction, west along the south side of Highway 36 to the county line and south of Highway 36 to Rock Lake and west to the county line.

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