Thousands flee California wildfires

QUINCY, Calif. (CNN) – Wildfires in the U.S. so far this year have burned an area bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

As the flames from the Dixie Fire burn out of control, authorities issued evacuation orders. But while many of the more than 16,000 under these orders have left, others like Jason Ackley are choosing to stay.

His wife and son have already evacuated. But instead, he and his brother are working on their own fire line, the fire getting within about a quarter-mile of his property

Jason said, “It was a big scare, but this is everything, this is all we have. This is what we fight for. I mean, if we don’t have this where we’re gonna go?”

The almost 218,000-acre fire has already destroyed almost 40 structures and over 10,000 others are at risk.

Serena Baker works with the Bureau of Land Management. She said, “No structure is ever worth a human life.”

The Dixie Fire is California’s largest wildfire this year, and the 14th largest in state history.

With severe drought conditions continuing across the western U.S., wildfires are becoming larger and more frequent.

Baker explained, “We are seeing that wildland fires in California are growing in size, complexity and frequency.”

It’s something that Ackley acknowledges he knows he is putting his life on the line, but instead points to managing the forest and says it’s what he will do until the very end.

He said, “When we see them red lights and them guys getting ready to go. I mean, we’ll turn the sprinklers on and well, you know, make our last-minute prayer and we’ll see what we can do. But at that point, I mean, we’re gonna stand here together. We’ve already decided that from day one.”

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