'We lost Greenville': Wildfire decimates California town
GREENVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A 3-week-old wildfire engulfed a tiny Northern California mountain town, leveling most of its historic downtown and leaving blocks of homes in ashes, while a new wind-whipped blaze destroyed homes as crews braced for another explosive run of flames Thursday amid dangerous weather.
The Dixie Fire, swollen by bone-dry vegetation and 40 mph (64 kph) gusts, raged through the northern Sierra Nevada community of Greenville on Wednesday evening. A gas station, church, hotel, museum and bar were among many fixtures gutted in the town, which dates to California's Gold Rush era and had some structures that were more than a century old.
The fire “burnt down our entire downtown. Our historical buildings, families homes, small businesses, and our children’s schools are completely lost," Plumas County Supervisor Kevin Goss wrote on Facebook. The sheriff's department said there was “widespread devastation throughout the area."
“We lost Greenville tonight,” U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, who represents the area, said in an emotional Facebook video. “There's just no words.”
As the fire’s north and eastern sides exploded Wednesday, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office issued an urgent warning online to the town’s approximately 800 residents: “You are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!”
A similar warning was issued Thursday for residents of another tiny mountain community, Taylorsville, as flames pushed toward the southeast. To the northwest, crews were protecting homes in the town of Chester. Thousands were under evacuation orders or warnings, but no injuries or deaths were immediately reported.
The blaze that broke out July 21 is the largest burning in California and had blackened over 504 square miles (1,305 square kilometers), an area larger than Los...