IAFF Members Injured in California’s Second-Largest Fire in History

August 11 • 2021

Hundreds of IAFF members continue to fight a Northern California wildfire, now the second-largest wildfire in state history. Known as the Dixie fire, it has burned more than 482,000 acres and more than 800 structures. Only the August Complex Fire of August 2020, which consumed more than 1 million acres, was bigger.

Four CAL FIRE Local 2881 members, who are part of the department’s 18-person Butte unit, were injured when a large tree burned and fell on them. All four were transported to the hospital. Three have been treated and released. The fourth, a fire captain, is expected to stay in the hospital for 7-10 days before being discharged.

“On behalf of the IAFF, we wish these brave members a swift and full recovery,” says General President Ed Kelly. “They, like so many of our California members, are working in very dangerous conditions — extreme temperatures, drought-like conditions, dry vegetation and tough terrain — for days, even weeks at a time to keep citizens and their property safe. The IAFF is always ready to provide all needed resources to support them on and off the fire line.”

“This incident highlights the importance of making sure our members have the resources they need,” says General Secretary-Treasurer Frank Líma.  “Having been on fire lines myself, I know the danger our brothers and sisters face as well as how those resources not only help prevent future injuries, but also member fatigue allowing them to more efficiently keep their communities safe.”

The Dixie Fire, named for the road where it started in mid-July, is only about 22% contained. Due to a weather shift, the air has cleared enough to allow helicopters and air tankers to take flight and assist ground crews with containment efforts.

As with many wildfires, Dixie has been fueled by wind and bone-dry vegetation. Active evacuations are ongoing in Plumas, Butte, Lassen and Tehama counties. IAFF members are concentrating their efforts on protecting those threatened homes.

“Our members have been fighting this fire since July 14, and it may be another month before it is fully contained. Still, our members remain mission-focused,” says 10th District Vice President Steve Gilman. “They will not stop until the job is done, and this IAFF will be there to provide support whenever and wherever possible.”

The fire’s cause is under investigation. Pacific Gas & Electric has said it may have been sparked when a tree fell on one of its power lines.

California’s fire season is on track to surpass last year’s season, which was the worst in recent recorded state history.

Since the start of the year, more than 6,000 blazes have destroyed more than 1,260 square miles of land — more than triple the losses for the same period in 2020.