- Aug. 6, 2021, 5:59 p.m. ET
QUINCY, Calif. — A time aft wind-driven flames from the Dixie Fire ripped done the Northern California municipality of Greenville, residents who had reluctantly near their homes down sat astatine a picnic array nether hazy skies successful a parking batch astir 25 miles away.
“I knew our municipality was going up,” said Teresa Clark, 34, describing the infinitesimal she had decided to evacuate, watching the flames attack arsenic the aerial got hotter and the chances for escaping grew slimmer. “That’s erstwhile the sheriff pulled up and said, ‘You guys request to leave,’” she said. “I was frightened to death.”
Inside the adjacent Paradise Grill diner successful Quincy, immoderate Greenville residents spoke successful disbelief astir however rapidly the flames had raged down the upland toward their beloved community.
“We mislaid everything,” said Jose Garcia, 34, who sent his household distant but stayed down with his father, Juvenal Garcia, 70, vainly chopping down trees to make firebreaks.
“I tried to support it to the past second,” said the younger Mr. Garcia, who described realizing helium had conscionable minutes to get his 3 dogs successful the motortruck and drawback important household documents arsenic the occurrence burned person and closer. “The occurrence conscionable pushed maine out.”
The Garcias’ houses were mislaid to the flames, similar truthful galore different buildings successful Greenville, a municipality of astir 1,000 radical that became but the latest California assemblage to beryllium devastated by wildfires that are increasing faster and burning earlier successful the play than anyone successful the authorities has ever seen.
“I don’t deliberation we’ll rebuild,” said Mr. Garcia, who besides mislaid his taco restaurant.
By Friday morning, the Dixie Fire, which sparked a small much than 3 weeks ago, had grown to astir 433,000 acres, according to the authorities, becoming the third-largest blaze successful recorded California past — up from sixth the time before.
It is present the largest wildfire successful the United States this year, surpassing the Bootleg Fire successful confederate Oregon.
Sheriff Todd Johns of Plumas County said astatine a assemblage gathering connected Thursday that determination were nary reported injuries during Greenville’s destruction, but that the authorities were inactive looking for 4 radical who were unaccounted for. He estimated that the blaze had destroyed much than 100 homes successful the area.
“My bosom is crushed by what has occurred there,” said Sheriff Johns, a lifelong Greenville resident.
Greenville’s downtown had inactive had galore buildings that dated backmost to the Gold Rush epoch of the mid-19th century. Fire officials estimated that 75 percent of the town’s structures were mislaid to the blaze.
“It looks similar a weaponry went off,” said Ryan Meacher, 37, whose father’s location successful Greenville was 1 of galore that burned down. “There is thing left.”
Mr. Meacher said it was heartbreaking to deliberation astir what was mislaid — the room wherever helium would prime up books and VHS tapes, the pizza spot adjacent doorway with an arcade.
Also destroyed were a charter schoolhouse and the Cy Hall Memorial Museum, which covered the past of Indian Valley, a verdant upland vale whose inhabitants erstwhile depended connected timber from the surrounding mountains, and wherever galore residents inactive trust connected cattle ranching.
Kjessie Essue, 38, lives successful adjacent Taylorsville and evacuated southbound connected Thursday with her husband, her 3 young children and her parents, who did not cognize whether their Greenville location inactive stood.
She said it had seemed liked a movie arsenic they prepared to permission with their Nigerian Dwarf goats, an alarm blaring and chaotic winds sending a fume plume with a achromatic halfway toward the area.
“Greenville is simply a wasteland,” she said. “It’s surreal.”
In the parking batch extracurricular the Paradise Grill, different evacuees from towns adjacent Greenville were camped retired successful trailers, waiting to spot if their homes would endure the aforesaid fate.
Though she had lived done different fires, Sandy Padgett, who had evacuated from North Arm, said this 1 was different. “We didn’t person this wind,” she said, adding that it was driving the fires to the constituent of being “unfightable.”
Ms. Padgett said that arsenic acold arsenic she knew, her municipality and location were inactive untouched. Though others had remained successful the town, she and her spouse had chosen to evacuate, she said, due to the fact that it was not worthy the risk.
“There’s a batch worse tragedies than losing your home,” Ms. Padgett said. “You tin ever rebuild.”