Stunning photos show a California firefighter rescuing an American flag despite being surrounded by huge flames from the Dixie wildfire that razed much of a historic Gold Rush town overnight.
The unidentified firefighter was snapped carefully loading the Stars and Stripes and a pole it was attached to from a burning home in Greenville late Wednesday — with a massive fireball filling the frame behind him.
The patriotic rescue came as flames made “their way down the street,” wrote the photographer, Josh Edelson, who also snapped numerous other images of the wildfire he said “ripped through and destroyed most of Greenville.”
Other images showed numerous buildings engulfed in the Golden State’s largest wildfire that on Wednesday gutted much of the northern Sierra Nevada town, which dates to the Gold Rush and has buildings more than a century old.
“I’d say the majority of downtown Greenville is completely destroyed,” tweeted photographer Stuart Palley, who also shared images of the devastation — including a bent-over street lamp that melted in the heat.
“My heart is broken for this beautiful little town,” he wrote.
The three-week-old blaze, which has blackened well over 435 square miles, appeared to have been coming under control until 40-mph gusts and bone-dry vegetation fueled it again, officials have said.
Late Wednesday, the Plumas County Sheriff’s Office warned the town’s approximately 800 residents, “If you are still in the Greenville area, you are in imminent danger and you MUST leave now!!”
“If you remain, emergency responders may not be able to assist you,” the department warned.
“We did everything we could,” fire spokesman Mitch Matlow said of tackling the devastating blaze. “Sometimes it’s just not enough.”
Red flag weather conditions of high heat, low humidity and gusty winds were expected to be a continued threat through Thursday evening.
The trees, grass and brush were so dry that “if an ember lands, you’re virtually guaranteed to start a new fire,” Matlow said.
Similar risky weather was expected across Southern California, where heat advisories and warnings were issued for interior valleys, mountains and deserts for much of the week.
With Post wires