The Dixie Fire is one of 96 burning in the United States, including 11 California and 24 in Montana, according to federal wildfire data. The River Fire, which broke out on Wednesday about 40 miles northeast of Sacramento, has already burned 2,400 acres, forcing thousands of evacuations. The Bootleg Fire in southern Oregon is the largest so far this year in the country, having burned more than 400,000 acres. It was so intense at one point, it generated its own weather.
A red flag warning, indicating conditions are ripe for increased risk of fire danger, was in effect for areas around the Sacramento Valley and points farther north, including Plumas County, through Thursday, the National Weather Service said. Wind gusts up to 35 m.p.h. were also expected.
Firefighters had been working this week to protect buildings in Greenville, according to Cal Fire, and aircraft were also working to support ground efforts where visibility allowed.
Greenville is the largest town in Indian Valley, a verdant mountain valley with a cluster of small towns whose inhabitants once depended on timber from the surrounding mountains, and where many residents still rely on cattle ranching.
Since the Dixie Fire erupted, the sky in Indian Valley has intermittently been covered in smoke so thick that it conceals the silhouette of the mountains that ring the valley, residents said.
A Gold Rush town, Greenville still had many buildings that dated back to the 19th century, and its Main Street facades were reminiscent of old Westerns. Its isolation contributed to a feeling that it was lost to time, preserved by its remote location from many forces defining contemporary life.
Over the last decade, however, its inhabitants have struggled with the effects of the droughts that have devastated much of California and contributed to the dangerous conditions fueling wildfires.
Since late July, residents have contended with evacuation orders that shifted from day to day. Many in the area had chosen to stay, helping one another dig trenches, spray down homes and irrigate fields, while some had stored belongings in horse and cattle trailers, in case the fire came over the mountains.