As The Lake Tahoe Wildfire Spreads, Everyone On The California Side Is Told To Leave

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A firefighter is dwarfed by an aerial drop at the the Chaparral Fire in Murrieta which still blazes, Sunday, August 29, 2021. Several homes appear to be evacuated in the area.

Cindy Yamanaka/AP


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Cindy Yamanaka/AP


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«Today’s been a rough day and there’s no bones about it,» Jeff Marsoleis, forest supervisor for El Dorado National Forest, said Sunday evening. A few days ago, he thought crews could halt the Caldor Fire’s eastern progress, but «today it let loose.»

Flames churned through mountains just a few miles southwest of the Tahoe Basin, where thick smoke sent tourists packing at a time when summer vacations would usually be in full swing ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

«To put it in perspective, we’ve been seeing about a half-mile of movement on the fire’s perimeter each day for the last couple of weeks, and today, this has already moved at 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) on us, with no sign that it’s starting to slow down,» said Cal Fire Division Chief Erich Schwab.

Some areas of the Northern California terrain are so rugged that crews had to carry fire hoses by hand from Highway 50 as they sought to douse spot fires caused by erratic winds.

The forecast did not offer optimism: triple-digit temperatures were possible and the extreme heat was expected to last several days. A red flag warning for critical fire conditions was issued for Monday and Tuesday across the Northern Sierra.

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Smoke from the Caldor Fire fills the sky above Stateline, Nev.

Noah Berger/AP


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Noah Berger/AP


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Further south, evacuation orders and warnings were still in place for remote communities after a wildfire broke out and spread quickly through the Cleveland National Forest on Saturday. A firefighter received minor injuries and two structures were destroyed in the 2.3-square-mile (5.9-square-kilometer) Chaparral Fire burning along the border of San Diego and Riverside counties, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. It was 10% contained Sunday.

Meanwhile, California’s Dixie Fire, the second-largest in state history at 1,193 square miles (3,089 square kilometers) was 48% contained in the Sierra-Cascades region about 65 miles (105 kilometers) north of the Caldor Fire. Nearly 700 homes were among almost 1,300 buildings that have been destroyed since the fire began in early July.

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Smoke from the Caldor Fire fills the sky above Lake Tahoe’s Zephyr Cove.

Noah Berger/AP


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Noah Berger/AP


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The Department of Defense is sending 200 U.S. Army soldiers from Washington state and equipment including eight U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft to help firefighters in Northern California, the U.S. Army North said in a statement Saturday. The C-130s have been converted to air tankers that can dump thousands of gallons of water on the flames.

  • weather events
  • California wildfires
  • Nevada
  • climate change

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