In Taylorsville, a fewer residents won’t travel evacuation orders. “These fires, they’re ne'er going to get me.”
Aug. 7, 2021Updated 8:31 p.m. ET
TAYLORSVILLE, Calif. — The Dixie Fire, present the third-largest successful California’s history, is inactive raging crossed the tinder-dry wood of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In its wake, the municipality of Greenville has been reduced to scattered bricks and crumpled sheets of metal.
Five radical are missing, but immoderate residents successful Taylorsville, conscionable 10 miles southeast, person refused to heed evacuation orders.
Instead, connected Friday, they gathered astatine the Taylorsville Tavern, the town’s lone bar, for a beer.
“I’m not going to leave,” said Susan Doran, 71, who sat successful the smoky haze astatine the tavern, beside her partner, Pete Neer, a rancher. The 2 said they could not wantonness their animals. Their exigency program was to permission their aged woody location and flight into the paddock, Ms. Doran added, wherever they believed they would beryllium harmless among the cows.
The mates are among a fistful of residents who accidental they volition not evacuate, contempt persistent warnings and orders from the authorities. By Saturday afternoon, the occurrence was conscionable 21 percent contained and had ravaged 446,723 acres of adust scrub successful Northern California, but Ms. Doran, a erstwhile firefighter, and Mr. Neer accidental they are acquainted with occurrence and person calculated the risks involved. “I’m not scared,” Mr. Neer said. “These fires, they’re ne'er going to get me.”
But this benignant of stubbornness is frustrating the authorities and firefighters, who are moving grueling hours to effort to tamp down the inferno, and who accidental that those who enactment down marque their enactment adjacent much challenging.
“They’re astatine large risk,” said Jeff Gillette, a firefighter and spokesperson for the Dixie Fire arsenic helium stood extracurricular the occurrence basal successful Quincy, a municipality 130 miles northbound of Sacramento that has go a basal for firefighters facing the blazes crossed Plumas County.
“We person to spell successful and prevention those people,” helium added. “Just similar Greenville.”
The Dixie Fire has been raging since past month, perchance started by a histrion that fell connected a powerfulness enactment owned by Pacific Gas and Electric, California’s largest utility. On Friday, a national justice ordered the inferior company to explicate its relation successful starting the blaze, which has ravaged the drought-stricken landscape.
In Greenville, residents had besides been reluctant to evacuate, definite the blaze would not scope their town.
“I tried to support it to the past second, and the occurrence conscionable pushed maine out,” said Jose Garcia, 34, who mislaid his location and his taco restaurant. He said that helium had lone seconds to escape. “We mislaid everything.”
Others said that they had been reluctant to permission aft evacuation orders were aboriginal lifted, and past reinstated.
“We were astir apt immoderate of the past radical retired of there,” said Teresa Clark, 49, who said she had evacuated the archetypal clip unneurotic with her mother, who uses a wheelchair, spouse and pets, but that the outgo and trouble — and the information that the fires had not initially reached Greenville — made her reluctant to permission a 2nd time.
But connected Wednesday afternoon, explosive, blistery flames were rapidly approaching. “I knew our municipality was going up,” she said. “That’s erstwhile the sheriff pulled up and said, ‘You guys request to leave.’”
Ms. Clark added, “I was frightened to death.”
Dan Kearns, a unpaid firefighter, described occurrence “raining retired of the sky,” arsenic helium did his champion to enactment retired spot fires successful the town, earlier it became unsafe to continue. The fires “don’t conscionable spread, they virtually explode,” helium said.
“No 1 expected to suffer the full town.”
By the weekend, Greenville — a Gold Rush-era municipality erstwhile lined with historical buildings — was near successful charred ruins; lamp posts were buckled and trucks were thing but smoldering husks. The aerial was heavy with fume and the stench of burning inorganic materials. All was quiet, but for the dependable of cracking trees.
Some of those successful Taylorsville who refused to evacuate said they were somewhat rattled by the destiny of Greenville.
“It got a batch scarier yesterday,” Judy Johnson, a bartender astatine the Taylorsville Tavern, said connected Friday.
“They didn’t expect that,” she added of the townspeople. Though the distant towns of Plumas County had been suffering done weeks of choking air, she added, it inactive came arsenic a shock. “It was similar a mean day.”
Guido Armanino, 33, whose household has owned the tavern for generations, has packed his astir invaluable belongings into the car, but helium said helium planned to enactment arsenic agelong arsenic imaginable to support the property.
“I’m going to enactment present until we can’t prevention this place,” helium said. “We aren’t conscionable going to permission this household heirloom.”
But Ms. Doran and Mr. Neer, the rancher, person seen thing that would transportation them to evacuate. Roads starring successful and retired of the municipality are present blocked by the authorities, which means that radical cannot instrumentality to Taylorsville if they were to permission to get gas, medications oregon groceries.
“It’s truly benignant of eerie,” Ms. Doran said. “Time is conscionable moving 1 time into another.”
On Friday afternoon, arsenic ash fell from the entity implicit Mr. Neer’s ranch, helium and Ms. Doran described watching the mountains northwest of the ranch detonate into flames the erstwhile evening.
“You could spot each the trees crowning,” said Mr. Neer arsenic helium pointed to the horizon, present made invisible by the heavy fume hanging implicit the field. He added, “The clouds were conscionable a reddish glow.”
Firefighters worked to incorporate the blazes connected Friday and Saturday. The smoky conditions helped little the heat, but they said they were stretched thin, moving grueling two-week, 12- and 24-hour shifts that often ran overtime.
“It makes it a batch harder if they determine to instrumentality around,” said Jordan Lucio, 26, a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service.
If helium lived successful the area, helium said, “I would get out.”
Sophie Kasakove contributed reporting.