Greenville, Calif., Residents ‘Lost Everything’ in the Dixie Fire
QUINCY, Calif .– A day after blustery blasts from the Dixie Fire ravaged the northern California town of Greenville, residents who had reluctantly left their homes sat down at a dining table. picnic under misty skies in a parking lot about 25 miles away.
“I knew our city was rising,” said Teresa Clark, 34, describing the moment she decided to evacuate, watching the flames approach as the air grew warmer and the chances of escape were decreasing. “That’s when the sheriff stopped and said, ‘You have to go,’ she said. ‘I was scared to death.’
Inside the nearby Paradise Grill restaurant in Quincy, some Greenville residents spoke in disbelief about how quickly the flames had raged up the mountain towards their beloved community.
“We lost everything,” said Jose Garcia, 34, who sent his family away but stayed with his father, Juvenal Garcia, 70, unsuccessfully chopping down trees to create fire breaks.
“I tried to defend him until the last second,” said young Mr. Garcia, who described realizing he only had a few minutes to get his three dogs into the truck. and retrieve important family documents as the fire got closer and closer. “The fire just pushed me out.”
The Garcia’s homes were burnt to the ground, like so many other buildings in Greenville, a town of about 1,000 that has become the last California community to be devastated by faster growing and burning wildfires. earlier in the season than anyone in the state has ever seen.
“I don’t think we’ll rebuild,” said Garcia, who also lost his taco restaurant.
As of Friday morning, the Dixie Fire, which erupted just over three weeks ago, had reached nearly 433,000 acres, officials said, becoming the third largest fire in California history against the sixth the day before.
It is now the largest wildfire in the United States this year, overtaking the Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon.
Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns told a community meeting Thursday that no injuries were reported during the destruction of Greenville, but authorities were still looking for four people missing. He estimated that the blaze had destroyed more than 100 homes in the area.
“My heart is broken by what happened there,” said Sheriff Johns, a longtime resident of Greenville.
There were still many buildings in downtown Greenville from the mid-19th century Gold Rush era. Firefighters estimated that 75 percent of the city’s structures had been destroyed by the blaze.
“Looks like a bomb went off,” said Ryan Meacher, 37, whose father’s house in Greenville was one of several burned down. “Nothing is left.”
Mr Meacher said it was heartbreaking to think about what was lost – the library where he picked up books and VHS tapes, the pizzeria next door with an arcade.
A charter school and the Cy Hall Memorial Museum were also destroyed, which covered the history of Indian Valley, a verdant mountain valley whose inhabitants once relied on timber from the surrounding mountains and where many locals still depend on it. livestock.
Kjessie Essue, 38, lives in nearby Taylorsville and evacuated south with her husband, three young children and parents on Thursday, who were unsure if their Greenville home was still standing.
She said it appeared to be a movie as they prepared to leave with their Nigerian dwarf goats, a sounding alarm and wild winds sending a plume of smoke with a black center towards the area.
“Greenville is a wasteland,” she said. “It’s surreal.”
In the parking lot outside the Paradise Grill, other evacuees from towns near Greenville were camping in trailers, waiting to see if their homes would suffer the same fate.
Although she has experienced other fires, Sandy Padgett, who had evacuated from North Arm, said this one was different. “We didn’t have that wind,” she said, adding that it caused the fires to be “unmatched”.
Ms Padgett said that to her knowledge her town and home were still intact. Although others remained in the city, she and her partner chose to evacuate, she said, because it was not worth the risk.
“There are much worse tragedies than losing your home,” Ms. Padgett said. “You can always rebuild. “
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