Dixie Fire Exhibits Extreme Behavior with Lightning Shooting Out of its 40,000-Foot Pyrocumulus Cloud
The Dixie Fire took a turn for the worse on Monday afternoon, with dry conditions fanning the flames and creating a 40,000-foot pyrocumulonimbus cloud big enough to generate its own lightning strikes. As of 6 pm Monday, the fire has grown to at least 30,000 acres and is just 15 percent contained.
The smoke emanating from the fire illustrated how extreme the flames have become. The pyrocumulonimbus cloud grew in the early afternoon, with lightning strikes detected shortly after.
#DixieFire in Plumas/Butte counties burning very intensely this afternoon and exhibiting extreme fire behavior. In fact, the the very tall (40k+ ft) pyrocumulonimbus (i.e., fire thunderstorm) cloud atop the fire is now generating its own lightning strikes. #CAwx #CAfire pic.twitter.com/8K2wmRaQJa— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) July 19, 2021
A timelapse of the smoke cloud shows how it exploded over just an hour on Monday afternoon:
BIG Pyrocumulus clouds are being made by the #DixieFire today! This is a 1 hour time lapse, from 2:45 pm to 3:45 pm today.— Kris Kuyper (@Weather1224) July 19, 2021
The brown smoke near the surface is exactly that: smoke from the Dixie Fire. The white cloud on top of that is the Pyrocumulus Cloud.
On Monday morning, PG&E indicated its equipment may have been the cause of the fire. The utility company said in a filing Sunday that a repair man responding to a circuit outage on July 13 spotted blown fuses in a conductor atop a pole, a tree leaning into the conductor and fire at the base of the tree.
Here are all the evacuation orders for the fire:
- High Lakes: Recreational area of Plumas County east of the Butte/Plumas County line Plumas/Butte County line
- Plumas/Butte County Line east to Twain: Includes both sides of Hwy. 70 near Rock Creek, Storrie, Tobin, Belden, Caribou Rich Bar and Twain
- Meadow Valley & Bucks Lake: Bucks Lake Road at Riverdance and everything west to the Butte/Plumas county line. This includes Snake Lake, Meadow Valley, Tollgate, Bucks Lake, Bucks Lake Highlands and all surrounding areas
- From Twain east to Paxton and the Greenvile Wye
- Caribou Road north to the Humbug Road and Humboldt Road intersection: This includes Belden Reservoir and Butt Valley Reservoir
- Prattville Butt Reservoir Road and everything west to the Butte/Plumas county line
- The community of Seneca in Plumas County
- Philbrook in Butte County
- Jonesville in Butte County
- Bucks Lake Road from Riverdance west to Mountain House in Butte County
- Highway 70 from Deadwood Road east of Paradise in Butte County to the State Route 89 junction in Plumas County
- Evacuation Center Church of the Nazarene, located on 2238 Monte Vista Ave.
- Call 530-283-6300 if you need shelter after evacuating
We will continue to report on the situation as more information is made available.