As the winds finally turn in their favor, firefighters throw all of their resources into boxing a California flame that was barely miles from Lake Tahoe and neighboring Nevada.
Three days of violent gusts of wind had driven the Caldor fire eastward through the rugged Sierra Nevada, forcing tens of thousands of people from the region’s forests, mountain towns, resorts and alpine lakes.
The winds were expected to skyrocket into the weekend, although humidity remained low and the eastern side of the large wildfire still burned trees and ran through explosively dry grasslands into harsh areas difficult for firefighters to reach, authorities said.
The flame also threw sparks that caught trees and created fire for up to a mile in front of the main wall of flames.
“We are fighting against what we can fight, waiting for the winds to subside,” said Stephen Vollmer, a fire behavior analyst for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
Still, the forecast made firefighters cautiously optimistic.
The change could allow firefighters to enter dense forest areas to begin clearing felled trees and branches that had blocked routes to remote communities, thus making it safer for evacuees to return, Vollmer said.
Firefighters from across the country were thrown into the fight against the fire, which was only 23% contained after destroying at least 700 homes and other buildings since the outbreak on 14 August.
Climate change has made the West much warmer and drier for the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent, destructive and unpredictable, researchers say.
The Caldor fire threatened at least 33,000 more homes and structures. On Wednesday, firefighters were ferried by boat to protect cabins at Echo Lake, a few miles south of Tahoe.
Heavenly Mountain Resort, Tahoe’s largest ski area, was used as a staging area by firefighters. The resort also brought its large cannons forward-making devices that were used to snake buildings down.
One of the fires was about 5 miles south of the newly evacuated town of South Lake Tahoe, which is moving northeast toward the California-Nevada state line, authorities said.
Crews worked to keep flames away from urban communities where houses are close together and shopping malls, hotels and other structures would provide even more fuel.
Thick smoke has enveloped the town of South Lake Tahoe, which is almost deserted at a time when it would normally swarm by tourists.
After casinos and shops closed on the Nevada side Wednesday morning, car-free evacuation sites lined up outside the Montbleu resort and casino in Stateline, waiting for a bus to Reno.
Kevin O’Connell, a disabled plumber from South Lake Tahoe, planned to stay and ride the evacuation order. But he went to 7-11 down the street in Stateline and even saw stores that had closed.
“I called 911 and told them I was going to leave here – I have no food, no cigarettes and am disabled. And within a few hours, the police came and picked me up in my apartment and brought me here, ”he said, wearing ski goggles to protect his eyes from the ashes.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden issued a federal emergency statement ordering federal assistance to supplement state and local resources for firefighting and relief for residents of four counties affected by the fire.
More than 15,000 firefighters battled with the help of foreign crews with dozens of California flames, including another monstrous flame in the same area.
Major General David Baldwin, Adjutant General of California, said the state has also deployed more than 1,000 National Guard soldiers, pilots and sailors and 10 other states have sent about 1,250 additional guard members. Many of them provide air support, including 23 aircraft, some equipped with water buckets, others with systems that can lose fire retardant.
Approximately 105 kilometers north of the flame in the Lake Tahoe area, the Dixie Fire is the second largest wildfire in state history at about 1,315 square miles. The week-old fire received new evacuation orders and warnings this week and was just over 50% contained.
Suggest a correction
Disclaimers for mcutimes.com
All the information on this website - https://mcutimes.com - is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. mcutimes.com does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (mcutimes.com), is strictly at your own risk. mcutimes.com will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.