Updated Aug 8, 2021 - Science

California Gov. Gavin Newsom visits fire-devastated town

A patriotic banner is seen in front of a burned out property during the Dixie fire in Greenville, California on August 6
A property in Grenville, California, burned out by the Dixie Fire on Friday. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said after visiting Greenville that the Gold mining-era town had "been completely destroyed" by the Dixie Fire, as authorities searched for three people missing in the blaze on Saturday.

State of play: Evacuation orders were in effect for several Sierra Nevada mountain communities, as the third-largest blaze in California's history continued to threaten homes.

  • Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns told a community meeting Saturday night that two people from Greenville were missing and a woman from nearby Chester had been reported safe, but no official contact had been made with authorities.
  • The Dixie Fire was also raging across Butte, Lassen, and Tehama counties.
  • Greg Hagwood, a Plumas County supervisor, said some residents under evacuation orders "who have guns" told law enforcement: "'Get off my property and you are not telling me to leave,'" per the Los Angeles Times.

What they're saying: Newsom said in a video what he saw was "not dissimilar to what we saw a few years ago in Paradise," when the Camp Fire swept through and killed dozens of people.

By the numbers: The Dixie Fire had burned across almost 448,000 acres and was 21% contained, authorities said at Saturday night's community meeting.

Context: The U.S. West is in the grip of a severe drought — the worst to hit the region so far this century, per Axios' Andrew Freedman

  • Studies show human-caused climate change is driving an increase in the likelihood and severity of heat waves and droughts and, consequently, wildfires, Freedman notes.

Go deeper: Judge says PG&E must explain role in Dixie Fire

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Newsom and to reflect the increase in land burned and that Johns said three people were missing, down from five.

Go deeper