Grizzly Flats destroyed by fire, second Northern California community burned

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Two weeks after the historic mining town of Greenville was destroyed within a few hours by the Dixie Fire, the forest community of Grizzly Flats east of Sacramento was destroyed by the Caldor Fire.

Its post office, elementary school and nearly all homes have been destroyed, reduced to ash and metal. Its streets are littered with downed power lines and poles charred by the fire.

Residents were ordered to evacuate Monday after the fire burned 50 homes since Saturday. Then on Tuesday, the El Dorado County sheriff’s office ordered evacuations for residents living on both sides of Highway 50 Camino on the west stretching to Ice House Road on the east includes the towns of Cedar Grove, Pollock Pines, Fresh Pond and Pacific House.

So far, no one has died; two have been hospitalized with serious injuries.

The Caldor Fire more than doubled in size Tuesday night, which has now destroyed more than 53,772 acres.

While Cal Fire said “significant resources” were deployed to the region only 242 people were assigned to fight the Caldor Fire as of Wednesday morning.

High winds were expected statewide Wednesday, with gusts expected to reach 40 to 50 miles an hour, the National Weather Service reported. A Red Flag warning remains in effect for most of Northern California, including the Bay Area’s North Bay mountains and East Bay hills.

Emily Heller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento said, “Everything is just ready to burn.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in El Dorado County, where federal officials are considering closing the entire El Dorado National Forest.

El Dorado National Forest Supervisor Chief Jeff Marsolais said at a briefing, “We know this fire has done things that nobody could have predicted, but that's how firefighting has been in the state this year.”

In Susanville, residents were also warned to evacuate. The town of 18,000 had sued the governor for selecting its prison, whose inmates are part of firefighting crews, as one of two prisons to be closed in the state. Susanville is only a few miles from the northeastern part of the Dixie Fire, which firefighters have not been able to contain since July 13.

Dixie, the second largest in California history, which firefighters also haven’t been able to contain, has destroyed more than 635,000 acres as of Wednesday and more than 1,200 structures. It began near the town of Paradise, a town devastated by a 2018 wildfire.

Late Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric began shutting off power to customers in 18 Northern California counties to prevent wildfires from spreading.

The shutoffs in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the North Coast, the North Valley and the North Bay mountains was implemented as a precaution to prevent winds from downing power lines that could spark fires.

More than 1 million acres have burned statewide in California in the last few months, with workers fighting 13 large fires, including Dixie and Caldor.

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