Thousands of people along the southern and western shores of Lake Tahoe were ordered to evacuate Monday as the Caldor fire escalated in dry and windy conditions, threatening the popular vacation destination on the border between California and Nevada.
The blaze had burned more than 177,000 acres south and west of the lake and was 14 percent contained on Monday at 11:45 a.m. local time, according to Cal Fire.
Fire officials have estimated more than 20,000 structures could be at risk from the blaze, the latest to hit California in what has been a particularly ruthless summer for fire crews in the western United States. United.
The National Meteorological Service published a red flag warning Monday for the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades, meaning extremely dry conditions and wind gusts of up to 35 miles per hour were likely to cause forest fires to spread in the mountains.
The warning will remain in effect until 11 p.m. Wednesday for the area, which was covered in mist on Monday. Smoke from the fire had deteriorated air quality to unhealthy levels, the US Forest Service said on Monday. Twitter.
Firefighters warned Monday that the Caldor blaze, which started more than two weeks ago, showed no signs of abating.
“Fuel conditions remain critical and we are still seeing active crown tracks and group fires in the northeast divisions of the blaze,” Cal Fire said on its website Monday.
Many evacuees faced bumper-to-bumper traffic after several major roads in the area were closed. Photographs showed cars stopped on Highway 50, the main thoroughfare along the southeastern shore of the lake.
The mandatory evacuation zone stretched from Tahoma, Calif. To the lake’s western shore, to the Nevada border, and included the bustling resort community of South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
The lake, which is known for its sapphire waters and coves surrounded by evergreen leaves, is especially popular with vacationers in the Bay Area. It is home to several famous ski resorts and casinos, which can be found just across the border from South Lake Tahoe in Stateline, Nevada. Several concerts that were scheduled this week at Harveys Lake Tahoe Casino have been postponed due to the fire threat, including performances. through Phishing Tuesday and Wednesday, and by Miranda Lambert Thursday.
Although forest fires do occur every year in the West, scientists are seeing the influence of climate change in the extreme heat waves that have contributed to the intensity of the fires this summer. Prolonged periods of unusually high temperatures are a sign of climate change, they say.
As the Caldor Fire threatened Lake Tahoe, the Dixie Fire, the largest single-origin wildfire in California history, continued to rage through the upstate.
As of Monday, that fire had burned more than 771,000 acres in five counties and was about 48% contained, according to Cal Fire.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Cal Fire said more than 15,200 firefighters were on the front lines of 14 large active wildfires that had burned more than 1.68 million acres.