Updated Aug 9, 2021 - Science

Dixie Fire now 2nd largest wildfire in California history

The Dixie Fire swallows a home and car

A home is engulfed in flames as the Dixie fire rages on in Greenville, California, on Aug. 5. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Authorities continued to search into the night for four people missing in California's historic Dixie Fire, as wildfires raged across the West.

Driving the news: Those unaccounted for were all from the fire-devastated town of Greenville, per a statement from the Plumas County Sheriff's office Sunday. The Dixie Fire is the largest blaze burning in the U.S. and the second-biggest wildfire in the state's history, a Cal Fire spokesperson told Axios.

State of play: The Dixie Fire, which erupted in mid-July, was burning across 489,287 acres and was 21% contained as of Sunday evening, per Cal Fire.

  • It has destroyed 627 buildings and damaged 42 other structures.
  • Evacuation orders have been issued to dozens of communities across Plumas, Butte, Lassen, and Tehama counties.

The big picture: The U.S. West is in the grip of a severe drought exacerbated by human-caused climate change that has proven to be the worst to hit the region so far this century.

  • Studies show human-caused climate change is driving an increase in the likelihood and severity of heat waves, droughts and wildfires.
  • Six of the seven largest fires in California's history have occurred since August 2020, according to CalFire.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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