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5 people missing as California's historic Dixie Fire threatens communities

Several people were missing as the Dixie Fire, the biggest wildfire in the U.S., tore through Northern California communities, authorities said Saturday.

Details: Evacuation orders were in effect for several Sierra Nevada mountain communities, as the third-largest blaze in California's history continued to threaten homes. But Greg Hagwood, a Plumas County supervisor, said law enforcement said some residents "who have guns" told them "'Get off my property and you are not telling me to leave,'" per the Los Angeles Times.

  • The Pulmas County Sheriff's Office said in a statement officers were trying to confirm the whereabouts of five people, two of whom had been reported safe but no official contact was made.
  • Four were residents of the fire-devastated Greenville, the other from Chester. Both Plumas County towns in recent days been threatened by the blaze. The damage to buildings in Greenville has been particularly bad.
  • The fire was also raging across Butte, Lassen, and Tehama counties.

Threat level: Fire activity in the west zone overnight was "minimal due to smoke inversion and better overnight relative humidity recovery," per a statement from Cal Fire.

  • But "fuel moisture remains historically low and has caused difficulty in suppressing the fire spread," the statement added.
  • In the east, cooler temperatures, better relative humidity and calmer winds "significantly reduced fire behavior," enabling firefighters to complete structural protection efforts, according to Cal Fire.

By the numbers: The Dixie Fire has burned across almost 447,000 acres and was 21% contained as of Saturday.

  • Cal Fire said Saturday that 184 structures had been confirmed destroyed, including over 40 overnight. Most of the damage was in the Gold mining-era town of Greenville.
  • Chester saw eight buildings destroyed or damaged.

Context: The U.S. West in the grip of a severe drought — the worst to hit the region so far this century, per Axios' Andrew Freedman

  • Studies show human-caused climate change is driving an increase in the likelihood and severity of heat waves and droughts and, consequently, wildfires, Freedman notes.

Go deeper: Judge says PG&E must explain role in Dixie Fire

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