In Placer County, nearly 2,400 people are under evacuation, Placer County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Nelson Resendes said. In Nevada County, at least 4,200 residents are under an evacuation order or warning, Nevada County Sheriff Shannan Moon said.
“If you receive an evacuation warning, please go. And if you receive an order, get out. Do not take your chances … We do not need you in there; you’re taking your life in your hands,” Placer County Sheriff Devon Bell said Wednesday at the news conference.
“The Dixie Fire pushed into Greenville Wednesday and early indications are there has been significant damage,” California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services spokesman Brian Ferguson told CNN in a phone interview.
Residents of the town were warned to evacuate immediately.
“If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!! … If you remain, emergency responders may not be able to assist you,” the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office said in a message.
Wednesday evening, responders were still working to get everyone out.
“Right now, there are still a lot of people unfortunately in Greenville that did not evacuate. And so, we are having to deal with that … and get all those folks out,” said Jake Cagle, the operations sections chief for California’s Incident Management Team.
“We lost Greenville tonight. And there’s just not words for how us in government haven’t been able to get the job done,” La Malfa said. “We will take up the fight even harder. And more so, we got to win this; we got to stop this. We got to get DC to pay attention, we got to get Sacramento to pay attention.
“Forget the politics, forget the nonsense. We have to stop making this happen by inattention to what is obvious,” LaMalfa said.
North of the border, in British Columbia, Canada, 292 wildfires were actively burning as of Wednesday, with 122 categorized as out of control, the British Columbia Wildfire Dashboard showed.
Hawaii battles its largest wildfire yet
Even being surrounded by water hasn’t kept Hawaii free from fires.
Two homes have been destroyed in the Mana Road Fire, Hawaii’s largest wildfire on record, the state’s Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) said.
The fire has burned between 40,000 and 50,00 acres, fueled by wind gusts that topped 50 mph over the weekend, said Mike Walker, Fire Protection Forester with the DLNR Division of Forestry and Wildlife.
The fire is now 75% contained, but the fight isn’t over, Walker said. “Firefighters will probably be there a few more days securing the line and tending to any hotspots they find.”
While most people think of Hawaii as a tropical place, the leeward side of the island is drier, and Hawaii has a year-round fire season, Walker explained. Climate change has contributed to greater risk of fires in fallow agricultural lands, he said.
“The wet seasons are getting wetter and this creates a lot more fuel in the grass lands in these old agricultural lands and the drought that follows the wet season cures the grass until its ripe for burning,” Walker said.
He cited the decline of agricultural lands as adding this significant fuel to the landscape, which devoid of crops is rich with invasive species of grass from Africa.
The cause of the Mana Road Fire has not been determined, but Walker noted that natural fires are rare, and 99% of fires started in Hawaii are caused by humans.
Federal forest officials abandon ‘let it burn’ tactic after criticism
The US Forest Service will no longer use its “let it burn” strategy for wildfires after federal officials allowed a small fire to grow out of control in extreme drought conditions, destroying homes and prompting renewed criticism from western lawmakers.
“We need your help to change the culture in terms of the suppression strategies in this climate literally and figuratively to be more aggressive on these federal fires,” Newsom told Biden.
“The 2021 fire year is different from any before,” Moore wrote. “In short, we are in a national crisis. At times like these, we must anchor to our core values, particularly safety.”
Moore said the shift in policy will prioritize extinguishing wildfires that could pose a threat to public safety, rather than using small fires to clear out overgrown forestlands, until wildfire activity improves.
“We are in a ‘triage mode’ where our primary focus must be on fires that threaten communities and infrastructure,” Moore wrote. “There is a finite amount of firefighting resources available that must be prioritized and fires will not always get the resources that might be requested.”
“Candidly, I think it’s fair to say over the generations, over the decades, we have tried to do this job on the cheap,” Vilsack said, lamenting that the action “has caught up with us.”
Vilsack praised Newsom for challenging the federal government to do more and promised to “beef up capacity with more boots on the ground” and ensure that federal firefighters are better compensated.
“This is music to our ears,” said Newsom.