The Dixie Fire has destroyed Greenville, California while becoming the largest single wildfire in the state’s history. The only larger burn was the August Complex Fire, a set of 37 fires burning in proximity, during the summer and fall of 2020.

The Dixie Fire began on July 14, 2021, near Dixie Road in Plumas County, most likely from a tree falling onto a PG&E power line in one of its notoriously uncleared power lanes. That origin is only a few miles away from where the Camp Fire razed the town of Paradise just a few years ago, a fire also connected to both PG&E equipment and drought conditions.

Another source is arson. Gary Maynard, a former college professor, was arrested in connection with a fire-setting spree in the area in late July and early August. It is alleged that Maynard attempted to trap fire crews with with new conflagrations. Maynard’s court appearance is scheduled for August 24, 2021, and he is formally accused of starting the Ranch Fire, which burned over 300 acres before being overrun by the Dixie Fire, and nearly cut off eight teams of firefighters.

So far, the Dixie Fire has destroyed over half a million acres in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains. The fire’s eastward spread was said to be contained, but it continues to grow northward.

On August 4, the fire burned over the town of Greenville, in Plumas County CA. Greenville, which had a population of just over 1,000 people, was destroyed in a single night, with over 75% of buildings incinerated, including the historic downtown, public library and, ironically, the fire department. Due to a well-carried out evacuation, no one was injured or killed.

So far, firefighters predict that the Dixie Fire is 30 percent contained, with over a thousand buildings destroyed so far, more than half of those homes. Dry, windy conditions are working against the firefighting efforts, making the blaze explode in new directions every few days.

Photo: The plume from the Dixie Fire billowing smoke as seen from Deer Creek. Credit: Micheal Lee /