GREENVILLE, Calif., Aug.5 (Reuters) – The main thoroughfare of a historic California Gold Rush town lay in ruins on Thursday, hours after the state’s largest wildfire engulfed the hamlet of Greenville in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Fire crews were still working Thursday to put out the fires in Greenville, about 160 miles (260 km) north of Sacramento, after the Dixie fire roared the night before.
As apocalyptic footage of the burnt down city center spread, showing Greenville’s scenic main strip in piles of ash and debris as smoke rose into the hazy sky, locals became moved.
“We lost Greenville tonight. And there are just no words to explain how we in government couldn’t get the job done, ”said US Representative Doug LaMalfa, who represents the region, in a video posted to Facebook, s ‘stopping to gather. .
“My heart is aching for what people are facing up there right now,” LaMalfa said, a huge cloud of smoke appearing in the distance over his shoulder.
Greenville, 800, was founded over 150 years ago when nearby gold mines attracted settlers and merchants to the picturesque Indian Valley town.
“My quirky and provocative beautiful adopted town turned into a ghost town last night,” Plumas News reporter Meg Upton wrote in an online article.
The Dixie fire has raged in the region for three weeks, burning 322,000 acres (130,000 hectares) and was 35% contained as of Thursday morning, officials said.
It was among more than 12 wildfires burning in the state.
The river fire, which started Wednesday and charred 2,400 acres in Nevada and Placer counties, forced thousands of people to evacuate, including most of the town of Colfax. More than 50 homes or other structures were destroyed and another 30 damaged, while the blaze was 0% under control, Cal Fire said.
California, which typically experiences a peak fire season later in the year, was on the verge of even more area burned this year than last year, which was the worst fire season on record.
The five largest wildfires in California history have all occurred in the past three seasons, burning more than 2.5 million acres and destroying 3,700 structures. The Dixie Fire is the sixth largest in state history.
It was not clear how many structures were destroyed in Greenville, as firefighters were still assessing the damage, Cal Fire spokesman Mitch Matlow told Reuters. No injuries or deaths were reported, he said.
But a man disappeared after telling his sister he was evacuating, the Plumas News reported. The Plumas County Sheriff’s Office had ordered residents of Greenville to evacuate on Wednesday.
The Dixie Fire began on July 14 in the Feather River Canyon area, about 20 miles from Paradise, a town destroyed by a wildfire in 2018 that killed 86 people.
The California Office of Emergency Services said Thursday that about 16,000 people have been evacuated from multiple fires in five counties in the state’s upstate.
Reporting by Fred Greaves in Greenville, California. Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Daniel Trotta in Carlsbad, California. Editing by Alistair Bell and Matthew Lewis
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