Caldor Fire: California, Nevada declare state of emergency
The latest: Evacuation orders were issued Tuesday for Nevada’s Douglas County and California’s Alpine county. Douglas County’s Kingsbury community, where citizens have been ordered to evacuate, is about eight miles from South Lake Tahoe.
- The National Weather Service extended its red flag warning for the region through Wednesday, as ferocious winds persisted.
Driving the news: The blaze is blowing embers miles ahead of it, creating so-called “spot fires” that allow it to jump containment lines as the blaze poses a threat of crossing state lines.
Zoom in: The fire jumped a major highway to reach Lake Tahoe Basin Monday night — hours after some 22,000 people were ordered to evacuate the city of South Lake Tahoe and surrounding communities, per the Sacramento Bee.
- Traffic was gridlocked on Highway 50 Monday, as people fled the popular vacation destination. The evacuation order in El Dorado county, which includes South Lake Tahoe, covers more than 53,000 people.
- Evacuation orders for communities in the nearby Amador County were issued Sunday night.
Zoom out: Extreme fire conditions in the state have prompted California’s Forest Service to close all national forests, effective just before midnight Tuesday through Sept. 17.
By the numbers: The wildfire is one of 13 large fires now burning in California.
- This is only the second wildfire on record in California to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains going from west to east. The other such blaze, the Dixie fire, is still burning.
What they’re saying: “There is fire activity happening in California that we have never seen before. The critical thing for the public to know is evacuate early,” said Chief Thom Porter, director of Cal Fire, per AP.
- “For the rest of you in California: Every acre can and will burn someday in this state,” he added.
- Tim Ernst, Cal Fire’s operations section chief, noted that one of the complexities in this fire was that “firebrands can be picked up by winds” and carried a great distance. “So, firefighters all night long were doing structure prep and structure defense” in and near the Lake Tahoe Basin, he added.
Our thought bubble, via Axios’ Andrew Freedman: Climate change, along with decades of land management policies, is leading to larger wildfires in the West. It’s also creating more frequent extreme fire weather conditions that lead to wildfires that are nearly impossible to contain.
- Nine out of 10 of California’s largest wildfires on record have occurred since 2010.
- A sweeping UN-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published this month found that the connection between human emissions of greenhouse gases and global warming is “unequivocal.”