After four years of being homeless, Kesia Studebaker believed she had finally found her feet after she got a job as a cook in a restaurant and then moved into a small house in Greenville.

She had been renting for three month and hoped that the stability would allow her to regain custody of her 14 year-old daughter. She said that in one night, a wildfire erupted through the mountain town and “took everything away”.

The Dixie Fire, which was fueled by strong winds and dry vegetation, became the state’s largest wildfire. The Dixie Fire is threatening to destroy thousands of homes in the Northern California forestlands. This weekend will be a time of terror for residents.

Studebaker stated Saturday that although we knew there wouldn’t be enough rain and fires, we didn’t expect such a massive storm.

On Wednesday and Thursday, the fire destroyed 370 homes and other structures in Greenville and threatened nearly 14,000 properties in northern Sierra Nevada. The fire had consumed an area twice the size of New York City.

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the Dixie Fire, named after the road it originated, grew overnight to a 725-square-mile (1,875 km) area. Sunday morning, 21% of the fire was contained.

After being struck by a branch, four firefighters were brought to the hospital. Although more than 20 people were initially reported as missing, authorities only managed to contact four of them by Saturday afternoon.

Chris Waters, Deputy Incident Commander, stated that crews have built 465 miles (748km) of line around the huge blaze. This is about the distance between Chico, California and Los Angeles. He said that only 20% of this is guaranteed by officials.

Waters stated that “every bit of that line must be constructed, staffed, mopped up, and put to bed” during Saturday’s incident briefing.

On Sunday afternoon, more severe winds were forecast. However, the weather is expected to calm down a bit beginning Monday.

Officials stated that damage reports are preliminary as assessment teams cannot reach many areas.

This blaze was the largest single fire ever recorded in California, surpassing the Creek Fire in Central Valley last year. It is about half the size the August Complex, which was a series seven-county lightning-caused 2020 fires that were fought together. Officials consider it California’s biggest wildfire.

Investigators are still investigating the cause of the fire. According to Pacific Gas & Electric, the fire may have been started by a tree falling on one of its powerlines. On Friday, a federal judge ordered PG&E to provide details by August 16 regarding the equipment and vegetation that caused the fire.

The fire spread slower due to cooler temperatures and more humidity. Temperatures reached 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) instead the triple-digit highs earlier in the week. The dense smoke cover also helped to shade the area and slow down the fire growth, but it made it difficult for crews on the ground to maneuver.

The blaze and its neighbors, located within several hundred miles of one another, continued to pose a threat.

Studebaker was looking for shelter at an evacuation centre before setting up her tent in the front yard of a friend.

If the restaurant she works at remains open, she will be able to return to her job. Her boss was also forced to evacuate when Chester, north of Greenville lost power, and the smoke made it difficult to breathe.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, Governor of Georgia, surveyed Greenville’s damage Saturday and wrote on Twitter that his heart aches for the town.

Wildfires in the American West are now more difficult to combat due to heat waves and droughts that have been linked to climate change. According to scientists, climate change has made the region warmer and dryer over the past 30 year and will continue making the weather extremes and wildfires more destructive.

Firefighters kept watch over small communities near the Klamath National Forest as they evacuated residents who were in danger from the Antelope Fire. The fire, which had earlier burned 100 feet (30 m) high and blackened bone-dry grass and timber, was located close to the Klamath National Forest. It was only 20% contained.

Further north, 500 homes in Shasta-Trinity National Forest were still at risk from the McFarland Fire and the Monument Fire. Both fire officials stated that they were triggered by lightning storms last Wednesday.

Crews were able to surround nearly half the River Fire that brokeout Wednesday near Colfax, destroying 68 homes and other structures. It took them about two hours to reach the Dixie Fire. Friday saw the lifting of evacuation orders for thousands in Nevada and Placer counties. Authorities said that three people were hurt, including a firefighter.

Northern California and Western Nevada were blanketed in smoke from the fires, which caused air quality to decline to dangerous and unhealthy levels.

California’s San Joaquin Valley was the worst affected area. It extended as far as San Francisco Bay Area, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas. Residents were advised to close their doors and windows. Saturday afternoon, Denver was ranked as one of the most polluted cities in the world.

California’s fire season could surpass that of last year, which was the most severe fire season recorded in state history.

According to state fire statistics, over 6,000 fires have decimated more than 1,260 sq miles (3,260 km) of land since the beginning of the year. This is more than three times the loss for the same period in 2020.

California’s wildfires are among the 107 that have been burning in 14 states. Most of them were located in the West where drought conditions have made it difficult for land to be ignited.