When Tom Larsen thinks of the Dixie Fire in Northern California, he thinks about better modeling.
Larsen, the senior director for content strategy for catastrophe modeler CoreLogic Inc., pointed to some grim facts about the ongoing Dixie blaze: It’s already the second largest wildfire in recorded state history, and over the past two years five of the state’s top seven largest fires have occurred – things he blames on forestry management, climate change, more homes being built in the wildland-urban interface and of course the massive drought plaguing the Western U.S.
“What we’re seeing now in the last few years is loss history’s insufficient,” Larsen said. “The history that we’ve seen is insufficient to look forward and understand the risk.”
The Dixie Fire has burned 489,287 acres, and is only 21% contained, according to CalFire. The fire covers areas including Butte, Lassen, Plumas, Tehama counties.
Evacuation orders include the west shore of Lake Almanor from the Canyon Dam, northwest to Hwy 36 at Hwy 89. This includes the communities of Prattville, Big Meadows, and Lake Almanor West along with the Rocky Point Campground and the Canyon Dam Boat Launch.
Some 30,943 residents have been evacuated, the total number of structures impacted is estimated at 843, and things could get worse, according to Yassy Wilkins, a CaldFire public information officer, who pointed to a recent shift in winds. “We’re experiencing winds coming from the southwest and they have gusts up to 25 mph,” Wilkins said.