Another wildfire burning in Northern California’s Trinity National Forest is the Monument Fire, which has burned 157,287 acres and is 20% contained.
“We get the first opportunity for additional resources that become available,” Cal Fire Incident Commander Dusty Martin said in a briefing Wednesday night. “We have been very fortunate in the past couple of days where we’ve seen a huge influx of resources into the Caldor Fire and as our operations talked about, we’re starting to see the fruits of those labors.”
“We’re starting to gain ground on this fire and it’s making a difference,” he added.
City declares emergency
The city of South Lake Tahoe declared an emergency Thursday as accelerating winds pushed the Caldor Fire closer to the popular tourist destination.
“With red flag conditions possible over the coming days, the Caldor Fire could spread rapidly into more populated communities and significantly broader areas,” the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said in a statement, adding that communities up to and including South Lake Tahoe may have to evacuate.
“At this time, we are prepared should an evacuation become necessary, but the firefighters on the front lines are doing incredible work to secure the perimeter of the fire and our hope is that they are able to prevent the fire from encroaching any further into the Tahoe Basin,” city spokesperson Lindsey Baker told Fintech Zoom.
The city’s emergency declaration comes after evacuation orders were issued to Echo Summit and warnings were extended for the first time to portions of the Tahoe Basin, including Christmas Valley, which is just south of the city of South Lake Tahoe.
The last time South Lake Tahoe was under mandatory evacuation orders was in 2007, when parts of the region were ordered to leave due to the Angora Fire, Baker said. The city is home to more than 22,000 people.
Crews battled 34 new blazes Wednesday
Firefighters battled 34 new blazes in the state Wednesday, Cal Fire said, attributing two new large fires to drought conditions.
“We’ve lived here over 30 years and this is the fastest I’ve ever seen a fire progress,” a resident told Fintech Zoom affiliate KABC. “We got home and there was no time to evacuate, no time to get anything so it’s just whatever we’re wearing, this is it.”
“We know several of our neighbors’ homes (have) burned, we’re still not sure what the status is of our house,” the resident added.
“I came home and got the dogs,” she told the news outlet. “Hopefully our house is going to make it.”
A devastating wildfire season
In the same time period last year, crews battled 7,389 fires.
The Office of Emergency Services says nearly 700 people are seeking shelter in 16 facilities throughout the state.
“Don’t wait, evacuate!” is their reminder to residents to heed emergency notifications.
Temperatures are expected to be 5 to 10 degrees above normal through the weekend in California, Fintech Zoom meteorologist Michael Guy said.
And while this isn’t uncommon for the region during this time of year, “any type of temperature increase is not good for the firefighters or any personnel fighting the fires with their exposure to intense temperatures as it is,” Guy said. He noted that the warmer weather is not expected to worsen the current fire conditions.
Study: Wildfire smoke threatens possible Covid-19 surge
Thick wildfire smoke blanketed the resort communities of Lake Tahoe this week as the Caldor Fire burning east of Sacramento, California, continued to swell.
The index has been around or above 300 in the Tahoe and Reno areas every day since Friday.
“What’s happening in Lake Tahoe and in Reno is very concerning,” Francesca Dominici, a researcher at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and co-author on the wildfire smoke study, told Fintech Zoom, “because we know that exposure to a high level of fine particulate matter can amplify the negative effect of the pandemic.”
Fintech Zoom’s Andy Rose, Cheri Mossburg and Alexandra Meeks contributed to this report.