Thinning trees along Highway 44 creates defense against Dixie Fire
Motorists taking Hwy 44 around Old Station will see a changed landscape once the pavement reopens after the danger of road traffic. Dixie Fire spent.
In addition to the charred forest, there will be fewer green trees along the road to Old Station.
Heavy equipment operators worked for over a month thinning out trees to create fuel cuts in case the Dixie Fire burned in that direction.
“The goal is to build a big firebreak, so if we had a strong wind and you had embers that were carrying long distances, you would create a good enough buffer for yourself that those embers didn’t cross the line,” news Dixie Fire said Officer Mike Yeun on Saturday.
The fire dangerously burnt near the old station Thursday, but Yeun said further fuel runs out closer to homes, emergency lines and tankers dropping retarders helped prevent the blaze in eastern Shasta County.
“The fire went around and circled – it flanked it – so it didn’t really hit the old station head-on,” Yeun said. “The firefighters did a really good job and obviously they prepared around the houses with containment lines and it paid off. “
A mandatory evacuation that was issued Wednesday night for Old Station remained in place on Saturday.
“At the moment, and of course, it’s still going on, but we have no reports of any structures that were destroyed in (the old station) in recent days when the fire spread north. “Yeun said.
Thinning trees along Highway 44 and parts of Highway 89 nearby is part of the precautionary work.
“You don’t need it until you need it,” Yeun said.
Work near the old station is similar to the 2019 Highway 44 fuel breaker that thinned trees and brush along the roadway closer to Shingletown, although the ongoing work is more of an emergency.
Logan Taylor, 25, of Redding is one of the forestry equipment operators who has worked more than a month in a row clearing trees. He said the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection contracted with Sierra Land Management of Redding to do the job.
“It’s been 36 days since we hit the line of fire in the Dixie Fire,” Taylor said on Friday.
He and the other workers cut down selected trees 100 feet on either side of Highway 44. They use the machinery to cut trees and stack logs that will later be transported to nearby sawmills, Taylor said.
“We are doing our best to try to prevent any further loss of trees,” Taylor said. “It was a devastating fire. We want everyone to come home safe and sound.”
Meanwhile, the milder weather on Saturday was helping firefighters as they worked to stop the spread of the Dixie Fire.
Higher humidity overnight calmed the fire’s behavior in the western area, as precipitation on Thursday evening and Friday morning dampened the flames in the eastern area, according to the firefighter’s update on Saturday morning.
“Today calmer weather returns to the fire zone,” officials said on Saturday.
Cooler temperatures of around 80 degrees are expected, although wind gusts can reach 20 mph.
Forest land where the fire has burned will continue to smolder, and the flames should always seep into the lines of control.
“There is still potential for points to establish well outside the control lines,” the firefighters said.
The Dixie fire hit 959,253 acres on Saturday morning, an increase of 5,557 acres from Friday night. Containment jumped to 62% from 59% on Friday.
Mike Chapman is an award-winning journalist and photographer for Record Searchlight in Redding, California. His career in the press spanned Yreka and Eureka in Northern California and Bellingham, Washington. Support local journalism by subscribing today.