a traffic light is lit up at night: The Dixie Fire destroys downtown Greenville on Wednesday night, Aug. 4, 2021.The largest wildfire in California this year “catastrophically destroyed” the gold rush town of Greenville on Wednesday night, then forced the closure of a national park on Thursday while also chasing residents from their homes across the northern Sierra Nevada region.

The Dixie Fire, now the sixth-largest blaze in the state’s modern history, has been burning for three weeks and spreading in Northern California’s Plumas, Butte, Lassen and Tehama counties. Plumas County Sheriff Todd Johns said more than 100 homes were destroyed in the area.

Dixie Fire public information officer Tim Jones told the USA TODAY Network on Thursday that the fire’s growth Wednesday was driven by high winds and fed by dry fuels amid red flag conditions. The scope of Thursday’s destruction would become clearer overnight, Jones said.

“In the morning we’ll have a better estimate of that from the infrared flight that we’ll do tonight,” he said, adding that Friday promises to be “another day and afternoon of explosive fire growth.”

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