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Calif. Officials Plead With Residents to Prepare for Wildfires

More than 500 homes were destroyed by the Dixie fire as of Wednesday, according to Cal Fire. An estimated 557 single-family homes were reported destroyed alongside eight multi-family buildings.

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(TNS) - California fire officials pleaded with residents to remain vigilant over the next few months of the state's fire season, pointing to "another bout" of weather conditions that could bring dry lightning to the Dixie Fire zone, which has already burned more than half a million acres.

The forecast is a concern in the "near term," Cal Fire Director Thom Porter said Wednesday afternoon, but added fire officials are aware that there is a "long peak season" still left in the year. Porter warned residents that officials will be "at this for months to come," and urged residents to make sure they don't create sparks that could ignite another blaze.

"If there is even a blade of grass near you, that is enough to start a fire these days. It is so dry," Porter said during a community update on the Dixie Fire with state law enforcement and emergency management authorities at the Plumas County Fairgrounds. "The way we've seen this burn through live timber in the tens of thousands of acres an hour is unlike anything we've seen other than a few times. And those few times, most of them have been within the last year or two years."

Porter said monsoonal moisture coming from Southern California could turn into dry lightning in the fire zone and could make its way to the north coast of California, and into Oregon and Washington.

The Dixie Fire is the second-largest wildfire in the state's history and among its most destructive.

More than 500 homes were destroyed by the fire as of Wednesday, according to Cal Fire. An estimated 557 single-family homes were reported destroyed alongside eight multi-family buildings. More than 130 commercial structures and other outbuildings were also destroyed.

Officials with local government agencies and officials with the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services toured the fire zone Wednesday and discussed the process of recovery for impacted areas. Officials have started the process of damage assessment "to take in the totality of all of the losses in the multiple counties" that have been impacted in Northern California, said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of Cal OES, during the community meeting.

Ghilarducci said that Cal OES officials are working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to "see about getting some additional aid" to local and state programs that are supporting communities impacted by the Dixie Fire and other blazes.

"It's unfortunate that we are now at another really catastrophic event as a result of a wildfire and the conditions that are creating these fires," Ghilarducci said.

Ghilarducci urged residents impacted by the fires to contact their insurance providers, and said that state officials will work with county officials "in the coming days" to set up local assistance centers.

The Dixie Fire's calamitous tally to date made it the 15th most destructive wildfire in California history. Some 15,000 additional structures remain threatened by the blaze, burning across four California counties.

Chronicle Staff Writer Dominic Fracassa contributed to this report.

Lauren Hernandez is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: Lauren.Hernandez@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ByLHernandez

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