California’s Dixie Fire has now burned more than 600,000 acres, destroying 1,208 structures, as it moves towards the town of Susanville.

Dixie Fire Greenville

Data from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shows the fire is currently 31 percent contained, unchanged from Monday, having burned 626,751 acres.

The Dixie Fire – the largest of some 100 active wildfires in more than a dozen western US states – extends across the counties of Butte, Plumas and Lassen and has been raging for more than 35 days.

Approximately 1,208 residential, commercial and other structures have been destroyed by blaze with another 81 structures damaged.

The fire remains the second largest on record in California, with only last year’s August Complex fire, which burned over one million acres, encompassing a larger area.

Utility firm Pacific Gas & Electric said on Tuesday it had begun shutting off power for about 51,000 customers in 18 of the state’s counties, including in the Sierra Nevada foothills, to prevent power lines from starting wildfires.

The Dixie Fire is one of at least six large blazes in Northern California.

 As previously reported, much of the western US has endured a period of drought with temperatures reaching record levels in recent months, prompting fears over the potential for wildfire activity in the remainder of 2021.

A study by Chaucer published earlier this month has shown a 30 percent increase in the number of major fires occurring over the past 15 years.

California has seen heightened insured losses from wildfires since 2017, when a record ~$12bn of insured losses were recorded related to the peril, around two thirds of which was attributed to the Tubbs Fire.

In 2018, the Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise. With more than 18,800 structures destroyed, the blaze remains the most destructive in state history. Insured wildfire losses in the state in 2018 totalled around $13bn.

While 2019 was quieter, last year saw several of the largest wildfires on record in California, albeit with a lower number of properties destroyed compared with 2017 and 2018.