The Dixie Fire destroyed town of Greenville

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Heat waves and historic drought tied to climate change have made wildfires harder to fight in America’s West. The out-of-control Dixie Fire, swollen by bone-dry vegetation and 40-mph gusts, raged through the northern Sierra Nevada town of Wednesday evening. The blaze was running parallel to a canyon area that served as a chimney, making it so hot that it created enormous pyrocumulus columns of smoke. The fire leveled multiple historic buildings and dozens of homes. Many centuries-old structures were completely lost. “We did everything we could,” fire spokesman Mitch Matlow said. “Sometimes it’s just not enough.” An additional 4,000 people were ordered to evacuate, bringing nearly 26,500 people in several counties under evacuation orders. “You are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!” the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office warned on Facebook.

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Evacuees are being asked to head east to Susanville. Shelters are in place at Lassen Community College at 478-200 CA-139 and Lassen High School at 1110 Main Street.The intense fire, which has caused widespread devastation according to the sheriff’s department, is the state’s largest current wildfire and has blackened more than 504 square miles. At Lassen Volcanic National Park visitors were told to leave and that the park was being shut down due to the massive fire. The wildfire remains only 35 percent contained.