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Smoke from the Caldor Fire shrouds Fallen Leaf Lake near South Lake Tahoe, Calif., on Tuesday. The massive wildfire has scorched more than 190 square miles and destroyed hundreds of homes since Aug. 14. It is now less than 20 miles from Lake Tahoe.
Thousands Of Northern Californians Flee From The Dixie And Caldor Wildfires
Inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, cocktail waitresses in fishnet stockings and leopard-print corsets served customers playing slots and blackjack.
Sitting at a slot machine near a window looking out at cars driving through the haze, Ramona Trejo said she and her husband would stay for their 50th wedding anniversary, as planned.
Trejo, who uses supplemental oxygen due to respiratory problems, said her husband wanted to keep gambling.
«I would want to go now,» she said.
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Diane Nelson and her husband Rick discuss the approaching Caldor Fire that threatens their home on Fallen Leaf Lake near South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday.
For The 1st Time In Recorded History, Smoke From Wildfires Reaches The North Pole
In the end, the Nelsons spent two days arranging to have the wedding moved from the glacial lake several hours southwest to the San Francisco Bay Area.
«Everybody’s trying to make accommodations for the smoke. And I think it’s becoming a reality for us, unfortunately,» Diane Nelson said. «I just think that the smoke and the fires have gotten bigger, hotter and faster-moving.»
Climate change has made the West warmer and drier in the past 30 years and will continue to make the weather more extreme and wildfires more destructive, according to scientists.
Although there were no evacuations ordered for Lake Tahoe, it was impossible to ignore a blanket of haze so thick and vast that it closed schools for a second day in Reno, Nevada, which is about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the fire.
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A golfer practices his putting at the smoke shrouded Lake Tahoe Golf Course in South Lake Tahoe on Tuesday.
With Extreme Fires Burning, Forest Service Stops ‘Good Fires’ Too
The western side of the blaze continued to threaten more than a dozen small communities and wineries. On the fire’s eastern side, crews bulldozed fire lines, opened up narrow logging roads and cleared ridgetops in hopes of stopping its advance, fire officials said.
More than 2,500 firefighters were on the line and more resources were streaming in, including big firefighting aircraft, fire officials said.
«It’s the No. 1 fire in the country right now … there’s dozens of crews and dozers and engines and others that are on their way right now,» said Jeff Marsolais, supervisor for the Eldorado National Forest and an administrator on the fire.
The resources were desperately needed.
«This fire has just simply outpaced us. We emptied the cupboards of resources,» Marsolais said, adding that while the blaze had slowed its explosive growth in recent days, «that can change.»
Environment And Energy Collaborative
Wildfire Risk Is Growing Everywhere, Even As More Americans Move Into Harm’s Way
Meanwhile, California’s Dixie Fire, the second-largest in state history at 1,148 square miles (2,973 square kilometers), was burning only about 65 miles (104 kilometers) to the north. It was 43% contained. At least 682 homes were among more than 1,270 buildings that have been destroyed.
Nationally, 92 large fires were burning in a dozen mainly Western states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.
Northern California has experienced a series of disastrous blazes that have burned hundreds of homes and many remain uncontained.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden declared that a major disaster exists in California and ordered federal aid made available to local governments, agencies and fire victims in four northern counties ravaged by blazes dating back to July 14.