California’s Caldor fire burns 100,000 acres as it rips through small towns


<span>Photograph: Fred Greaves/Reuters</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQyMw–/–~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/” data-src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQyMw–/–~B/aD02MDA7dz0xMDAwO2FwcGlkPXl0YWNoeW9u/”/></p>
<p><span>Photograph: Fred Greaves/Reuters</span></p>
<p>The raging Caldor fire in northern California has burned more than 100,000 acres and destroyed more than 500 structures after surging over the weekend.</p>
<p>Fueled by warm winds and drought-stricken vegetation, the fire, burning south-west of Lake Tahoe, surged through more than 30,000 acres in two days and by Monday morning had consumed about 106,500 acres.</p>
<p>Crews battling the blaze achieved 5% containment, helped by moderate humidity and lower overnight temperatures that helped calm the fire on Sunday night, but officials said the firefight through steep rugged terrain has been difficult.</p>
<p>“These are very, very dry drought-ridden areas that we are dealing with,” said Diana Swart, a spokesperson for the Amador El Dorado unit of Cal Fire. She said the forest understory was filled with dense layers of dead and dry leaves, branches, and stumps. “Everything is primed to start – we just haven’t had enough water,” she said.</p>
<p>More than 13,500 firefighters were working to contain a dozen large fires in California. Gavin Newsom, the state governor, requested that Joe Biden issue a major disaster declaration for eight counties, said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the California office of emergency services.</p>
<p>If approved, the declaration would provide a wide range of assistance, including housing, food aid, unemployment and governmental emergency costs.</p>
<p>Nearly 43,000 Californians were under under evacuation orders and more than 500 households were in shelters, Ghilarducci said.</p>
<p>Many communities remain under threat from the fast-moving flames. Already, close to 2,000 homes and other structures have been destroyed in the state, according to the California department of forestry and fire protection (Cal Fire), and the count continues.</p>
<p>Of those, 551 have been counted in the Caldor fire burn scar, which ripped through small towns tucked into the forested mountainsides in El Dorado county.</p>
<p>The blaze, which erupted on 14 August, quickly exploded in size, overwhelming the few-hundred firefighters and other personnel fighting to contain it early on. Officials at the time noted that it was difficult to deploy enough resources from the start with so many other big fires burning across the region.</p>
<p>Story continues</p>
<p>“A drawdown on resources is definitely a factor,” Swart said, mentioning the Dixie fire, which has burned more than 725,800 acres to the north and threatens homes in five counties. More than 6,000 personnel are fighting to wrangle the blaze, which is now the largest single fire ever recorded in California and is 40% contained.</p>
<p>In Nevada, public schools in the Reno and Sparks area and parts of Lake Tahoe were closed Monday due to wildfire smoke, affecting 67,000 students.</p>
<p>Drought is currently affecting close to half of the contiguous US, according to the US Drought Monitor. More than 95% of California is classified as experiencing severe drought conditions and nearly half of the state stricken by exceptional drought, the agency’s highest classification. The climate crisis, which has intensified the dry conditions and increased heatwaves that bake moisture out of the environment, has played a direct role in the worsening wildfires that have been increasingly difficult to contain.</p>
<p>There are 93 large fires total that have already burned more than 2.5m acres across 13 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, and more than 26,000 people are working to contain the fires.</p>
<p>“The entire western United States is having fire problems right now,” Swart added. “When we can we will get resources from out of state, but they are also working their fires as well.”</p>

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