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Dixie Fire: Firefight Along Highway 395; Flames Surge Into Sugar Fire Burn Scar; Structures Burned In Dixie Valley

DIXIE VALLEY, Plumas County (CBS SF) -- Shifting winds overnight slowed the advance of the Dixie Fire as flames roared toward homes in the Dixie Valley in Plumas County early Tuesday, but the wildfire made an aggressive run down the escarpment on the southeastern edge of the blaze across Highway 395, shutting down the freeway for several hours.

Fire Operations Chief Jeff Surber said crews were able to contain the spillover and the highway was reopened around dawn.

By early Tuesday, the fire's burn zone had grown to 917,579 acres and was 59% contained. Along its southeastern edge, the fire has rolled into the burn scar from the Sugar Fire which was part of the Beckwourth Complex blaze -- lightning-ignited wildfires that burned 105,670 acres in July.

"We had real favorable winds in [the Dixie Valley] yesterday," Surber said in his Tuesday morning update. "The winds pushed the fire back onto itself. We had dozers, we had hotshot crews, we had aircraft. We had everything pretty much pounding on it."

He said additional U.S. Forest Service hotshot teams were being deployed to the firefight as they are released from other fires across the West. A contingent of specially trained U.S. Army troops also has been added to reinforce the fire line.

Across the fire zone, the Dixie Valley and Highway 395 topped the lists of priorities. At his Monday morning update, Surber said the blaze had moved rapidly in the Dixie Valley over the weekend.

"We had pretty intense fire come into Dixie [Valley]," he said. "Yesterday, as you recall, we had one piece of fire on one side of Dixie Valley and a piece on the other side. In the afternoon it heated up, the [relative humidity] dropped and those fires merged and came into Dixie on the north end."

"There was some structure loss on the north end," he added. "We are in the process of assessing how many structures were affected."

The fire has destroyed 692 homes, many of those during the early stages in Greenville, Warner Valley and Canyondam.

Over the weekend, Riley Cantrell was among those who returned to Greenville. She stood with her boyfriend Bradley Fairbanks amid the ruins of her mother's home. They said that the family's dog died at the home and was buried by firefighters who later found it.

Curtis and Wendy Weight also stood amid the debris. They were selling their property and were set to close escrow in two weeks. But the fire has dashed those plans.

Cody Najera returned too. He stood amid the rubble, holding a coffee mug that had somehow survived the flames that consumed his home.


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