Devastated Greenville residents have returned to find what is left of their homes, as the evacuation order was finally lifted one month after the Dixie Fire tore through the California town.
Homeowners choked back tears Saturday as they surveyed the charred rubble from their houses, their burned out cars and the remains of their worldly possessions left behind by the second-largest and 14th most destructive wildfire in California history.
Riley Cantrell told AFP her family dog died when her mother’s home burned to the ground back in August and was buried by firefighters who later found it.
She broke down as she and her boyfriend Bradley Fairbanks returned to find nothing but debris where the home once stood Saturday.
Curtis and Wendy Weight also returned to the neighborhood Saturday to see the Dixie Fire had claimed their home too. The couple revealed they were selling the property and had been set to close escrow in just two weeks.
Plumas County Sheriff’s Office lifted the mandatory evacuation order on the Greenville area Friday, deeming the area safe from active fire and hazards.
However, even for those whose homes remain intact, the Gold Rush-era town still has no clean running water or internet, landline phone service or basic services.
Devastated Greenville residents returned to find what is left of their homes Saturday, as the evacuation order was finally lifted one month after the Dixie Fire tore through the California town
Riley Cantrell is comforted by her boyfriend Bradley Fairbanks as they surveyed what’s left of her mother’s home. The Cantrell’s family dog died at the home and was buried by firefighters who later found it
Residents Cody Najera (right) and Arizona Erb (left) looked through the remains of their burned home in Greenville
Deer wandered through the burned rubble where homes once stood in the small mountain town where just 1,000 people live
Dozens of properties have been reduced to rubble by the Dixie Fire which is the second-largest and 14th most destructive wildfire in California history
Tests of the water in the Indian Valley Community Services District has revealed it contains harmful chemicals including the cancer-causing chemical benzene.
Residents are being warned the water is not safe to drink – even if boiled – and they should only use bottled water until told otherwise.
Few basic services are available, with no pharmacy or ability to refill prescriptions, no gas stations and food services delayed with one local store, Gigi’s Market in Crescent Mills, open.
Power has been restored to the area and cell towers should be fully functional so cellphones can be used.
The sheriff’s office urged residents to exercise extreme caution if returning to the area, warning that disturbing debris could be hazardous.
Some residents came back last month, despite the evacuation order still being in place, to view the damage.
One man told Action News Now he was fortunate to discover his home was one of the few still standing.
Lloyd Cash said he couldn’t understand how his home was left intact when his neighbors lost everything.
‘I just don’t understand how it got so close and all that’s gone and our house is still here,’ Cash said.
Cash described the devastation to the area as ‘surreal’ but said he was thankful people escaped the blaze unscathed.
‘I’m glad that we were one of the fortunate few that still have our house and possessions, my family and animals are safe, my neighbors are safe. That’s the most important thing,’ Cash said.
Homeowners choked back tears Saturday as they surveyed the charred rubble of their houses, burned out cars and the remains of their worldly possessions left behind by the blaze
Plumas County Sheriff’s Office lifted the mandatory evacuation order on the Greenville area Friday, deeming the area safe from active fire and hazards
Resident Wendy Weight crouches down as she surveys the burned remains of her home in Greenville, California, Saturday
Some residents had stayed behind until the very last moment in the hope of salvaging their homes and livelihoods.
Jose Garcia told the New York Times in August that he and his father Juvenal Garcia stayed back chopping down trees to create firebreaks while sending the rest of the family away as the fire closed in.
But it didn’t make a difference and they were forced to quickly jump in the truck with their dogs and important family documents to escape the flames.
‘I tried to defend it to the last second. The fire just pushed me out,’ he said.
Garcia said the family’s homes and his taco restaurant were destroyed. ‘We lost everything,’ he said.
Curtis Weight said he was about scheduled to close escrow on the sale of his now burned-down home when it was scorched
The blaze has burned 889,001 acres or 1,389 square miles across Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta and Tehama counties
A deer is seen among the rubble. Even for those whose homes remain intact, the Gold Rush-era town still has no clean running water or internet, landline phone service or basic services
Another resident, Ryan Meacher, said it looked ‘like a bomb went off’ in the town, with his father’s home burned to rubble as well as the library and local pizza place.
Greenville is a small mountain town about 125 miles northwest of Reno, Nevada, home to just 1,000 people.
It was almost completely destroyed by the Dixie Fire – the state’s second-largest fire in history which continues to rage across the state almost two months after it first ignited.
The blaze has burned 889,001 acres or 1,389 square miles across Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta and Tehama counties – destroying an area more than twice the size of Los Angeles.
It is still only 56 percent contained with 6,163 structures still under threat from the fire and thousands of people still under evacuation orders.
A burned US Post Office truck sits charred in Greenville, California on September 4 as the evacuation order was lifted
Residents are being warned the water is not safe to drink – even if boiled – and they should only use bottled water
The sheriff’s office urged residents to exercise extreme caution if returning to the area, warning that disturbing debris could be hazardous
The historic blaze also claimed the life of its first victim Saturday, with Cal Fire confirming in its daily incident report that a first responder has died.
Three other first responders have been injured, with no other details provided at this time.
The Dixie Fire first ignited on July 13 in the Feather River Canyon near Cresta Dam.
Utility company PG&E later said its equipment may have started the fire following a malfunction with one of its utility poles.
The fire reached Greenville on August 4, nearly wiping out the town and forcing residents to evacuate to makeshift camps.
A firefighter lights backfires to slow the spread of the Dixie Fire Friday near the town of Greenville, California, August 6
A firefighter tackles the blaze in Greenville August 6 – two days after it reached the mountain town forcing an evacuation
Dozens of burned vehicles rest in heavy smoke during the Dixie fire in Greenville August as the fire nearly wiped out the town
Around 100 homes were destroyed as well as historic buildings including the Cy Hall Memorial Museum.
The Dixie Fire is now only smaller than one past wildfire that rocked California – the 2020 August Complex which burned over 1 million acres.
About 65 miles south of the Dixie Fire, the Caldor Fire is also currently ravaging the state.
Firefighters are making progress in bringing the blaze under control in South Lake Tahoe with residents hoping for a chance to also return home soon.
The fire began August 14 and has burned more than 213,270 acres and destroyed nearly 900 homes, businesses and other buildings.