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Dixie Fire Update: New Evacuation Orders Issued in Lassen County as Firefight Intensifies

OLD STATION (CBS SF) -- Cal Fire announced new evacuation orders in Lassen County early Thursday evening as the massive Dixie Fire continued to rip through the forests of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

The latest order issued at 4 p.m. expanded the evacuation zone from the fire north of Highway 44 from the Lassen County line east to Forest Services Route 32NO2 and north to the Blacks Mountain and Halls Flat area.

Additionally, evacuation warnings have been issued for north of the Halls Flat area from the Lassen County line east to Pittville Road and north to Black Gulch Road as well as the Blacks Mountain area from Pittville Road east to Forest Services Route 34N30 north to Black Ridge Lookout Road.

There were reports that the fire jumped the intersection of Highway 89 and Highway 44 outside of Old Station Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a new weather system was bearing down across the Dixie Fire burn zone Thursday, carrying with it the threat of lightning and erratic winds. On Wednesday evening, flames advanced into eastern Shasta County and forced new evacuations for Old Station and along Highway 44.

For weeks, firefighters have been waging a holding action in the rugged terrain against the fire which has ravaged much of the national forest.

"The fire in the park made a run to the north and switched back and headed east," said Cal Fire West Zone Ops Chief Tony Brownell at his Wednesday afternoon update. "It's outside our primary lines. We still have two lines above that before it gets to Old Station. We are going in there and actively fight the fire."

"It's rough country, we moved a lot of resources up in that area to protect Old Station. Our concern is we have some weather coming on through Friday."

The National Weather Service recently issued a Fire Weather Watch for the region that warns residents of a combination of dry lightning, gusty winds and low humidity through Friday. Some thunderstorms may last through the night Thursday.

Firefighters were fighting the blaze on the downslope of Raker Peak and in the Hat Creek area. The advance forced the Shasta County sheriff to order residents in and around Old Station to evacuate.

Also included in the order were residents of all roads between Lassen National Park entrance and the Bridge Campground as well as residents along Highway 44 from the Lassen County line.

By Thursday morning, the fire had grown to 927,320 acres with 59% containment. The fire lines surrounding the blaze stretched for more than 1,000 miles. Among the 4,876 firefighters battling the blaze including contingents from the U.S. Army and the California National Guard.

Along the southeastern edge where the firefight was the most intense over the last ten days, the blaze's advance slowed as it crossed over into the burn scar left by the Sugar Fire, which was part of the Beckwourth Complex blaze -- a cluster of lightning-ignited wildfires that burned 105,670 acres in July.

"Today (Wednesday) was a significantly different day than the previous last few days," said fire behavior specialist Tobin Kelley of the southeastern firefight. "Much less intense fire activity... fuels are burning out and the control actions are really starting to take control."


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