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Firefighters increase containment of Dixie, Caldor fires

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Firefighters increase containment of Dixie, Caldor fires
Evacuee Denis and Olivia Berg from Westwood, Calif., a small community east of Lake Amador, patiently wait with others from their community for an all clear to return home while sheltering at the Lassen County evacuation center. File Photo by Peter DaSilva/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Firefighters reported increased containment of Northern California's Dixie and Caldor fires Saturday.

The Dixie Fire in Butte, Tehama, Plumas, Shasta and Lassen counties has burned 959,253 acres overall, a California Department of Forestry and Fire update said Saturday, but recent weather helped with containment.

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The fire is now 62% contained, according to the update.

"The humidity overnight continued to moderate fire behavior with some creeping and heavy material burning out," the update said regarding the Dixie Fire's West Zone. "Interior islands and fuels within the control lines continue to smolder."

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Cal Fire warned in the West Zone update that "potential still exists for spots to become established well outside of the control lines."

For the Dixie Fire East Zone, rainfall in the past couple days has helped with containment.

"Rainfall around one quarter of an inch to just over one half of one inch fell across the East Zone Thursday evening and Friday morning, resulting in minimal fire activity," the update said.

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Still, winds kicked up by a thundershower caused a 6-mile swath of the blaze north of Lassen Volcanic National Park to fuel a 13-mile run of flames.

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"That fire ran up to the northeast," Cal Fire West Zone Operations Chief Tony Brownell said in a Friday night. "It ran 13 miles and was 6 miles wide at the widest spot."

The crews were able to prevent structure damage in the Shasta County community of Old Station, and they'll continue to make sure it's secure, Brownell added.

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Cal Fire has reported one fatality from the Dixie Fire. The fire, which is California's second largest in history, has also destroyed 1,329 structures, and damaged 95 structures, according to the latest update. The damage inspection is ongoing and subject to change as information is gathered and verified, Cal Fire noted.

The Dixie Fire has also led to recent evacuation orders and warnings in Plumas, Lassen and Shasta counties, some road closures, and temporary closure through Sept. 17 of all national forests in the Pacific Southwest Region "to better provide public and firefighter safety."

Its path of destruction includes burning through the historic mining town of Greenville, earlier this month, leveling multiple historic buildings and dozens of homes.

While the cause of the Dixie Fire sparked on July 13 is still under investigation, according to Cal Fire, Pacific Gas and Electric company may have caused it, according to a report by the utility submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission nearly a week later.

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Meanwhile, the Caldor Fire, in El Dorado, Alpine and Amador counties, has burned through 218,489 acres overall in 27 days, the update from Cal Fire Saturday said.

The Caldor Fire was 60% contained, according to the update, and it grew 30 acres overnight.

The fire grew 543 acres since Thursday morning despite two days of red flag warnings due to thunderstorms, gusty winds and low humidity.

Still, "southwest winds are forecasted through the weekend and create the potential for additional fire growth," Cal Fire warned.

The update added that an active fire area north of Strawberry Creek was a high priority for firefighters Saturday.

Five confirmed fire personnel and civilian injuries have been reported, but no firefighter or civilian deaths have been reported, Saturday's update said. The fire has destroyed 1,003 structures, and damaged 81 structures.

The Caldor Fire has also led to evacuation orders and warnings in areas of El Dorado, Amador, and Alpine counties and evacuation warning in Douglas County. In Amador County, Highway 88 is closed between Peddlers Ridge and Highway 88/89 interchange.

Investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.

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